by Al Benson Jr.
Recently I pulled a book off my bookshelf entitled Embattled Banner written by Don Hinkle. It was originally published in 1997 and went through three printings, the last being, to my knowledge, in 1999. As I browsed through it, I noted that apparently I had never read it before. There was nothing underlined, and no notations for pages marked off at the front of the book. At this point I have no idea where I got it (probably at a conference somewhere) or when.
As I got into it, and it is worth the read if you can still find one, I could see that Mr. Hinkle was dealing with how the religious and political left sought to attack the Confederate battle flag and Confederate symbols in general back in the 1990s. They used the same Marxist “Critical Theory” techniques they are using today. And why not? Because people continue to be ignorant about how they work.
Mr. Hinkle made some interesting observations about what they did back then and I think it behooves us to be aware of and to think about them today.
He noted, on page 163: “Such strategy has been used by anti-flaggers throughout the South ever since the battle flag debate surfaced. In short, their strategy is this: Go in and agitate; get rid of what you can and then pull back; wait for things to calm down, then return and wipe out the rest. It’s doubtful that many Todd countians, (Kentucky) knew about the NAACP resolution and the attacks on Southern heritage sweeping their region. Like most throughout the South, flag supporters were caught off guard and were woefully rusty on the true history of the battle flag and other Confederate symbols.” Hopefully, defenders of Confederate flags and symbols are a little better informed today. However, for those who are not, it still means you have to do a little homework so you will be able to refute the leftist garbage they will try to throw at you.
During this latest Cultural Marxist assault on the South we have seen the beginning of a resistance movement, a backlash if you will. Confederate flag rallies have been held all across the South, over 100 so far, I am told. And, if you are gullible enough to believe the rank propaganda put out by outfits like the Southern Poverty Law Center then you have been told that everyone of them was sponsored by some sort of hate group.
The public, in general, seems to have resisted this latest onslaught fairly well (or you wouldn’t be having all these rallies). The gutless politicians they have elected to office haven’t. In the main, they have folded like a tent in a Montana blizzard, trying to outdo each other as to who can be the most politically correct (Culturally Marxist). And if you live in the real world you have to know that the “news” (and I use that term very loosely) media has zestfully promoted the Marxist line in regard to Confederate symbols.
Seeing that there has been a fair amount of resistance to the latest cultural purge, I am wondering if the Powers That Be, the CFR and the Trilaterals, will start to reign in the leftists and let things quiet down for awhile before they begin their final “Normandy Invasion” of the cultural environment of the South. That would give most Southern folks who have protested this stuff time to calm down, to go back home and to get back into their normal pattern of living again before they make their final push for complete repudiation of anything Confederate or Southern. Once folks have gotten worked up and protested something that is inherently evil, and then gone home to rest and recuperate, it’s hard to get them up and moving again.
This was the same leftist technique that those pushing the rotten public school textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia in the mid-1970s used. When the parents’ resolution against the textbooks was really hard and firm, the Powers That Be proposed a “cooling off” period where the questionable texts would be “reviewed” and while this was being done everyone would go home and relax. At the end of the cooling off period, it was a month if I recall correctly, the book “reviewers” came back and said, basically, “nothing wrong with these books they’re just great. Don’t know what the fuss was all about.” And back into the public schools they went! They had succeeded in breaking the protest, for all intents and purposes, because after the “cooling off” period it was almost impossible to get folks concerned enough to do it all over–and they knew that when they proposed it!
I would keep my eyes open for something along that same line with this latest assault on the Confederate flag. If they sense determined resistance to their agenda, they may well pull back until they feel the resistance has begun to wane and then they will return fill blast and as the man said “You won’t have seen nuthin’ yet.”
You have to realize one thing with these anti-Confederate, anti-Southern people–your destruction as a people is a main part of their agenda and they will not ever quit. I don’t believe most Southern folks realize this. Oh, they may retreat here and there (take one step back so they can take two forward later) and you will think they’ve quit–but they haven’t. They will always be back and you have always got to be there to resist them. For them, the War of Northern Aggression will not be over until they have conquered you not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well–and you need to realize this.
by Al Benson Jr.
In recent days I have continued to observe as the theological and political left continues to orchestrate its assault against anything and everything Confederate. Some of their suggestions really swing to the loony side and some of their writers literally froth at the mouth. Their hatred of anything Southern or Confederate is really intense and unremitting. These people are not about to cease and desist. They see, at this point, a very real possibility of destroying Southern and Christian culture in the South and they want to be in for the kill! Most Southern folks don’t begin to grasp this. They need to.
There was an article on http://www.salon.com
on July 10th the headline for which was: “Let’s make the Confederate flag a hate crime: It is the American swastika and we should recoil from its horror.” The author of this loving and compassionate article is a Nick Bromell, who is a professor of American Studies at Massachusetts University at Amhurst. You almost had to know an article with this much anti-Southern vitriol had to originate with a Massachusetts leftist. I checked Professor Bromell out to see where he was coming from (though I already had a pretty good hunch). Turns out he’s pretty close to my age. I would have thought, from his style of writing, that he was a twenty-something frustrated youngster who was venting his angst about the South at the world.
He ended his Salon article with this little tidbit: “Has the age of ‘enmity’ finally ended? Has the ‘malignant spirit’ finally died away? Has the ‘pestilence’ finally abated? The answer to all these questions is ‘no’. The hateful actions of Dylann Roof remind us of that. So do the white supremacist websites Roof found appealing. So do the many Confederate flags displayed in places across the South–and beyond–today, emblazoning T-shirts, affixed to car bumpers, and worn as lapel pins in business suits.” So we supposedly have to get rid of all our flags and symbols because, to this professor and others of his ilk, they represent “hate.” Just so happens that one of Professor Bromell’s areas of study, and the name of a course he has taught, is “Emerson and Du Bois.” Apparently he feels that Emerson the Unitarian and Du Bois the Communist have something in common–and if you grasp the socialist bent of Unitarianism, they probably do .Bromell’s article exhibits the utmost in what many have labeled as “liberal love.”
Problem with the leftists is that what they really want to do is to edit history to make it say what they wish it said. If they can’t do that then they’d like to make sure laws are passed that would allow them to have removed from history the parts they don’t like and to make it a crime for anyone to believe any other version of history than theirs.
In this vein, I also ran across another article, and maybe this one could be considered to come from the loony left. It was about another college professor. It was on a site called Red Alert
and was written by Ryan Girdusky on July 9th. It’s brief. He states:” An assistant college professor claimed on Twitter that all whites have benefitted from slavery and are complicit in that evil institution that was abolished nearly 150 years ago. And when asked what whites should do to remedy this situation, Professor Adam Kotsko said whites must ‘commit mass suicide’.” There was a picture of Professor Kotsko with the article, and he’s as white as I am. One can only assume, given his suggestion, that he will step up and be first in line to do what he has suggested for the rest of us, right? Right? And someone may have suggested that to him because he later claimed that he didn’t really mean it and that no one should have taken him seriously.
It absolutely gives me the shivers to think that people today, in any area of the country, still send their kids blithely off to college to be taught by professors like the two noted in this article. What can you be thinking of to send your kids off to be taught this kind of stuff? This isn’t even high-grade bovine fertilizer!
Folks, it should be starting to be apparent, and we have got to get it though our heads–the religious and political left is at war
with us, our faith, and our culture, and if we keep going on the way we have been, we will hand them the victory by sheer default. They are actively seeking and working to overthrow our entire system of faith and culture (they hate Christianity and even the thought of the old Confederacy), practicing cultural genocide on our entire region, and we are arguing when them about license tags!
We have been fighting a rear-guard action against those people for decades. Maybe it’s time for Christians and Confederates to change their tactics and do a little offensive battle. We’ve been reacting to what they’ve been working to do do us. That’s why the left calls us reactionaries! Could be we need to find ways not to just fight back, but to go on the offensive where we can determine to do that.
It’s interesting that most Southern folks have not yet perceived that most of the vitriol directed against them and their culture has been coming from the left, and from the One World Government crowd (is there any difference between the two?). To put it bluntly, they want us gone. They with want our kids gone or brainwashed out of their minds so they don’t know upside down from inside out. They want our Christian faith trashed and our Southern culture disposed of and they are not ashamed to admit that. And we’re still out there trying to “be nice” to them so that maybe they’ll let us alone! That will never happen. Maybe it’s time we took the gloves off and threw a few punches. The left is not invulnerable. Let’s start trying to find their Achilles heel and seek the Lord’s help when we do. Praying some of the imprecatory psalms might be one good place to begin.
THE WAR OF 1861-1865 (Third Edition, November 21, 1929)
By: LYON GARDINER TYLER;
About the Author: Born: August 24, 1853 Died: February 12, 1935 Noted Educator and Historian. He was the son of President John Tyler and First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler, born in Virginia. He graduated in 1875 at the University of Virginia. From 1888 to 1919, he served as the seventeenth president of the College of William and Mary (W&M), and is widely credited for restoring the college's financial condition following the deterioration which took place in the wake of the American Civil War.
1. What was the cause of secession in 1861?
It was the fact that the Union consisted from the first two jarring nations having different interests, which were brought to the breaking point in 1861 by the intemperate agitation in the North against everything Southern. The breaking point was nearly reached in 1785 when the North sought to stop the development of the South by giving the Mississippi River to Spain, in 1801 when it attempted the immoral act of turning the presidential ticket upside down and making Aaron Burr President, and in 1833 went it imposed upon the South a high protective tariff for the benefit of Northern manufacturers. The breaking point was finally reached in 1861, when after unmitigated abuse of the South, a strictly Northern President was elected by strictly Northern votes upon a platform which repudiated the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States authorizing Southerners to carry their slaves into the territories. This decision gave no material advantage to slavery, as none of the remaining territorial domain was in any way fit for agriculture, but the Southerners resented the attitude of Lincoln and his party as a challenge to their constitutional rights and as a determination on the part of the North to govern the Union thereafter by virtue of a mere numerical majority. The literature of those times shows that such mutual and mortal hatred existed as, in the language if Jefferson, “to render separation preferable to eternal discord.” The choice was between remaining in such a Union of hate, and seceding. There was no real peace, and the South seceded because it wanted peace and not strife or war.
2. Was slavery the cause of secession or the war?
No. Slavery existed previous to the Constitution, and the Union was formed in spite of it. Both from the standpoint of the Constitution and sound statesmanship, it was not slavery, but the vindictive, intemperate anti-slavery movement that was at the bottom of all the troubles.
3. Was the extension of slavery the purpose of secession?
No. When South Carolina seceded, she had no certainty that any other Southern state would follow her example. By her act she absolutely shut herself out from the territories and thereby limited rather than extended slavery. The same may be said of the other seceding states who joined her.
4. Was Secession the cause of the war?
No. Secession is a mere civil process having non necessary connection with war. Norway seceded from Sweden, and there was no war. The attempted linking of slavery and secession with war is merely an effort to obscure the issue – “a red herring drawn across the trail.” Secession was based (1) upon the natural right of self government, (2) upon the reservation to the States in the Constitution of all powers not expressly granted to the Federal government. Secession was such a power, being expressly excepted in the ratification s of the Constitution by Virginia, Rhode Island and New York. (3) Upon the right of the principal to recall the powers vested in the agent; and upon (4) the inherent nature of all partnerships, which carries with them the right of withdrawal. The States were partners in the Union, and no partnership is irrevocable. The perpetuity spoken of in the Preamble to the Constitution was the expression merely of a hope and wish. No rights of whatever could exist without the right of secession.
5. What then was the cause of the war?
The cause of the war was (1) the rejection of the right of secession by Lincoln, and (2) the denial of self government to 8,000,000 people occupying a territory half the size of Europe. Lincoln himself said of these people that they possessed as much moral sense and as much devotion to law and order as “any other civilized and patriotic people.” Without consulting Congress, Lincoln sent great armies to the South, and it was the war of a President elected by a minority of the people of the North. In the World War, Woodrow Wilson declared that “No people must be forced under sovereignty under which it does not choose to live.” When in 1903, Panama seceded from Colombia, the United States sided with Panama against Colombia in support of Panama’s right to self government.
6. Did the South fight for slavery or the extension of slavery?
No. For had Lincoln not sent armies to the South, that country would have done no fighting at all.
7. Did the South fight for the overthrow of the United States Government?
No. The South fought to establish its own government. Secession did not destroy the Union, but merely reduced its territorial extent. The United States existed when there were only thirteen states, and it would have existed when there were twenty states left. The charge brought by Lincoln that the aim of the Southerners was to overthrow the government was no more true than if King George III had said that the secession of the American colonies from Great Britain had in view the destruction of the British Government. The government of Great Britain was not destroyed by the success of the American States in 1783. Nor would the government of the United States have been destroyed if the Southern states had succeeded in repelling the attacks of the North in 1861-1865.
8. What did the South fight for?
IT FOUGHT TO REPEL INVASION AND FOR SELF GOVERNMENT, JUST AS THE FATHERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION HAD DONE. Lincoln himself confessed at first that he had no constitutional right to make war against a state, so he resorted to the subterfuge of calling for troops to suppress “combi-nations” of persons in the Southern States “too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary” processes. It is impossible to understand how the Southern States could have proceeded in a more regular and formal manner than they did to show they acted a states and not as mere “combinations.” It shows the lack of principle that characterized Lincoln when later he referred to the Southern States as “insurrectionary States.”
9. Did the South in firing on Fort Sumter begin the war?
No. Lincoln began the war by secretly attempting to land troops at Fort Pickens in Florida in violation of a truce existing between the Federals and the Confederates at that place. This was long before Fort Sumter was fired on, and Fort Sumter was fired on only after Lincoln had sent an armed squadron to supply and strengthen that Fort. Even supposing that the action of the Confederates in firing on the Fort was unjustifiable, Lincoln was not bound to treat it as a gauge of battle. He knew that all the Confederates wanted was a fort that commanded the Metropolitan city of Charleston – a fort which had been erected for the defense of that city. He knew that they had no desire to engage in a war with the United States. Not every hostile act justifies war, and in the World War this country submitted to having its flag filled full of holes and scores of its citizens destroyed before it went to war. Lincoln, without any violation of its views of government, had an obvious alternative in putting the question of war up to Congress, where it belonged under the Constitution. But he did not do it and assumed the powers of Congress in making laws and enforcing them as an executive. By his mere authority, he enormously increased the Federal army, blockaded Southern ports, and declared Southern privateersmen to be pirates.
10. Why did Lincoln break the truce at Fort Pickens and precipitate the war by sending troops to Fort Sumter?
Lincoln did not think that war would result by sending troops to Fort Pickens, and it would give him the appearance of asserting the national authority. But he knew that hostilities would certainly ensue if he attempted to reinforce Fort Sumter. He was therefore at first in favor of withdrawing the troops from that Fort, and allowed assurances to that effect to be given out by Seward, his Secretary of State. But the deciding factor with him was the tariff question. In three separate interviews, he asked what would become of his revenue if he allowed the government at Montgomery to go on with their tem percent tariff. Final action was taken when nine Governors of high tariff states waited upon Lincoln and offered him men and supplies. The protective tariff had almost driven the country to war in 1833; it is not surprising that it brought war in 1861. Indeed, this spirit of spoliation was so apparent from the beginning that at the very first Congress, Grayson, one of our two first Virginia Senators, predicted that the fate reserved to the South was to be “the milk cow of the Union.” The New York Times, after having on March 21, 1861, declared for separation, took the ground nine days later that the material interest of the North would not allow of an independent South!
11. Did Lincoln carry on the war for the purpose of freeing the slaves?
No. He frequently denied that this was his purpose in waging war. He claimed that he fought the South in order to preserve the Union. Before the war, Lincoln declared himself in favor of enforcement of the fugitive slave act, and he once figured as an attorney to drag back a runaway Negro into slavery. When he became President he professed himself in his inaugural willing to support an amendment guaranteeing slavery in the states where it existed. Wendell Phillips, the abolitionist, called him a “slave hound.”
12. Did Lincoln, by his conquest of the South, save the Union?
No. The old Union was a union based on consent. The present Union is a great Northern nation based on force and controlled by Northern majorities, to which the South, as a conquered province, has had to conform all its policies and ideals. The Federal authority is only Northern authority. Today the Executive, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, (with one exception), the Ministers at foreign courts are all Northern men. The South has as little share in the government and as little chance of furnishing a President as Norway or Switzerland.
13. Could Lincoln have “saved” the Union by some other method than war?
Yes. If he had given his influence to the resolutions offered in the Senate by John Jay Crittenden, the difficulties in 1861 would have been peaceably settled. These resolutions extended the line of the Missouri Compromise through the territories, but gave nothing to the South, save the abstract right to carry slaves to New Mexico. But New Mexico was too barren for agriculture, and not ten slaves had been carried there in ten years. The resolutions received the approval of the Southern Senators and, had they been submitted to the people, would have received their approval both North and South. Slavery in a short time would have met a peaceful and natural death with the development of machinery consequent upon Cyrus H. McCormick’s great invention of the reaper. The question in 1861 with the South as to the territories was one of wounded pride rather than any material advantage. It was the intemperate, arrogant and self righteous attitude of Lincoln and his party that made any peaceable constructive solution of the territorial question impossible. In rejecting the Crittenden resolutions, Lincoln, a minority president, and the Republicans, a minority party, placed themselves on record as virtually preferring the slaughter of 400,000 men of the flower of the land and the sacrifice of billions of dollars of property to a compromise involving a mere abstraction, and they intrigued an unwilling North into the war. Some historians have actually boasted of the trickery.
14. Does any present or future prosperity of the South justify the War of 1861- 1865?
No. No present or future prosperity can make a past wrong right, for the end can never justify the means. The war was a colossal crime, and the most astounding case of self stultification on the part of any government recorded in history.
15. Had the South gained its independence, would it have proved a failure?
No. General Grant has said in his Memoirs that it would have established “a real and respected nation.” The states of the South would have been bound together by fear of the great Northern Republic and by a similarity of economic conditions. They would have had laws suited to their own circumstances, and developed accordingly. They would not have lived under Northern laws and had to conform their policy to them, and they have been compelled to do. A low tariff would have attracted the trade of the world to the South, and its cities would have become great and important centers of commerce. A fear of this prosperity induced Lincoln to make war upon the South. The Southern Confederacy, instead of being a failure, would have been a great outstanding figure in the affairs of the world.
16. Were the Southerners “rebels” in seceding from the Union?
The term “rebel” had no application to the Southern people, however much it applied to the American colonists. The latter called themselves “Patriots” not rebels. Both Southerners in 1861 and Americans in 1776 acted under the authority of their State governments. But while the colonies were mere departments of the British Union, the American States were creators of the Federal Union. The Federal government was the agent of the states for the purposes expressed in the Constitution, and it is absurd to say that the principal can rebel against the agent. President Jackson threatened war with South Carolina in 1833, but admitted that in such an event South Carolinians taken prisoners would not be “rebels” but prisoners of war. The Freesoilers in Kansas and John Brown at Harpers Ferry were undoubtedly “rebels” for they acted without any lawful authority whatever in using force against the Federal Government, and Lincoln and the Republican Party, in approving a platform which sympathized with the Freesoilers and bitterly denounced the Federal Government, were rebels and traitors at heart.
17. Did the South, as alleged by Lincoln in his messages and in his Gettysburg address, fight to destroy popular government throughout the world?
No. This charge was absurd. Had the South succeeded, the United States would still have enjoyed all its liberties, and so would Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and all other peoples. The danger to popular government came from Lincoln himself. In conducting the war, Lincoln talked about “democracy” and “the plain people,” but adopted the rules of despotism and autocracy, and under the fiction of “war powers” virtually abrogated the Constitution, which he had sworn to support.
18. Was Lincoln’s proclamation freeing the slaves worthy of the praise which it has received?
No. His proclamation was a war measure merely. He had no humanitarian purpose in view, and only ten days before its issuance he declared that “the possible consequences of insurrection and massacre in the Southern States” would not deter him from its use, whenever he should deem it necessary for military purposes. (Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, II, p.235) In his second inaugural message, while professing “malice to none and charity to all,” he slandered the South by describing the slave owner as an incarnate demon, who did nothing but lash his slaves, without giving the least requital for their service of 250 years! The Negroes were the most spoiled domestics in the world. The Southerners took the Negro as a barbarian an cannibal, civilized him, supported him, clothed him, and turned him out a devout Christian. Booker T. Washington admitted that the Negro was the beneficiary rather than the victim of slavery.
19. Would Lincoln have saved the South from the horrors of Reconstruction if he had survived the war?
No. Lincoln had shown no kindness to the South while he lived, and there is no reason to suppose that he would have done so had he survived the war. His war violated every law of humanity, and instead of offering pardon to everyone who would submit, as the British General Howe had done in his amnesty proclamation of November 30, 1776, Lincoln in his amnesty proclamation of December 8, 1863, excepted from the benefits of his proclamation everybody in the South of any leading intelligence. It is absurd to ascribe Andrew Johnson’s policy of Reconstruction to Lincoln, for Lincoln in his proclamation of July 8, 1864, professed that he was not bound up to any fixed plan whatever. The closest companion of Lincoln and the mastermind of this Cabinet was Edwin M. Stanton, who hated the South and all that concerned it. President Johnson, to his credit, drove him from is Cabinet. Lincoln’s reputation for kindness is based upon a number of trivial incidents and on his knack of juggling with words and using rhetoric to cover his absurd and often times outrageous statements by a jingle of sentences. He repeatedly backed down before his cabinet and had little of the backbone of his successor, Andrew Johnson.
20. Is there any truth in the statement that the South seceded from the Union because it saw itself menaced with the loss of the rule which it had enjoyed from the beginning?
None whatever. The Southerners never ruled the Union in any real sense. They controlled the executive department, but this department was confined to giving directions to the foreign relations and to executing the laws made by congress. And this body, the lawmaking – the real ruler – was managed by the North from the very start. With the aid of a few delinquent Southern votes, the North could always count upon a majority in Congress. The revenue was chiefly levied on the products of the South, and was mainly disbursed in the North. Never once did the South use the machinery of the Federal Government to enrich herself at the expense of the North. The funding of the National debt, the assumption of the State debts, the bounties for shipping, tonnage duties, bounties for the fishermen, the restrictions on foreign trade, the National bank, the tariff, the pensions, land grants, internal improvement, etc., were all in interest of the North. And this one-sided development remains today exactly like it was of old. The South is still “the milk cow of the Union".
By: David Dieteman
Editors note: A few minor edits have been made without effecting the work of the essayist.
Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality...the varnishes and veneers have been busily converting Abe into a plaster saint...Worse, there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost. What could be more absurd? Lincoln, in point of fact, was a practical politician of long experience and high talents, and by no means cursed with idealistic superstitions...his career in the State Legislature was indistinguishable from that of a Tammany Nietzsche.
~ H.L. Mencken, "Abraham Lincoln," The Smart Set, May 1920.
Reprinted in A Mencken Chrestomathy, pp 221-23.
Ken Masugi, director of the Claremont Institute's Center for Local Government, writes in Claremont Institute Precepts No. 267 that "Long-time fans of Rush Limbaugh's provocative radio show experienced a shock in a recent program that focused on Abraham Lincoln."
It turns out that Limbaugh was surprised to hear his callers criticize Abe Lincoln as responsible for the growth of federal power, a racist, and indifferent to the plight of the slaves.
The discussion, Masugi notes, grew out of advance qualms over Steven "fundraiser to the Clintons" Spielberg's forthcoming movie on Lincoln. As Masugi observes, the film will allegedly "portray [Lincoln] as a weakling, a racist, and a failure at the presidency."
Limbaugh and Spielberg aside, what's the truth about Abraham Lincoln? And what's the truth about the Confederate States of America and the South?
Allow me to suggest that the truth is quite far from the conventional wisdom. Allow me also to suggest, as indicated by Masugi's article, that the otherwise praiseworthy Claremont Institute goes too far in its adulation of Lincoln.
The Claremont Institute is "otherwise praiseworthy" because, for example, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership and the Claremont's Center for the Study of the Natural Law appear to do good things. Also, Mark Helprin (a very good contemporary novelist, and therefore a rare breed; A Soldier of the Great War is well worth reading) and Hadley Arkes (a natural law theorist whose works I have found insightful) are at Claremont. This article should not be interpreted as anything other that what it is: a criticism of the Claremont Institute's treatment of Abraham Lincoln and the issue of secession.
The Claremont Institute's devotion to Lincoln appears deep and widespread. The Institute provides "Abraham Lincoln Fellowships in Constitutional Government" and the Institute's Salvatori Center for the American Constitution has published a plethora of essays praising Lincoln and attacking the right of secession.
As a preliminary matter, it is a general problem with the Claremont writers — including not only Masugi, but Harry Jaffa — that they assume as a given the conclusion which they purport to prove. If the question of the day is whether Abe Lincoln is justified or unjustified, praiseworthy or blameworthy, for his actions from 1860-1865, then Lincoln's own words are not sufficient evidence to acquit Lincoln.
If, in defense of Lincoln, one can call no witnesses but Lincoln, the case for the prosecution looks very strong indeed.
Additionally, in order to judge Lincoln, one needs a standard by which to judge the praiseworthy or blameworthy nature of his actions.
One possible standard by which to judge Lincoln's actions is provided by a great theorist of republican government well-known to Americans in 1861 and 2001: Montesquieu.
Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline, is noted by its translator, David Lowenthal, as perhaps the least well known of Montesquieu's three works. Despite this fact, Lowenthal adds, the book "may have been the first (and certainly was one of the first) of all efforts to comprehend the whole span of Roman history, and among such efforts it still has few if any peers." (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1999; originally published by The Free Press, 1965. p 1). Lowenthal also writes that
It was probably one of the works Gibbon had in mind in his Memoirs when he wrote: "but my delight was in the frequent perusal of Montesquieu, whose energy of style, and boldness of hypothesis, were powerful to awaken and stimulate the genius of his age...it is one of the few instances when a philosopher has undertaken an extended analysis of any particular society, let alone of its entire history. The only comparable thing on Rome is Machiavelli's Discourses, to which it bears a deep inner kinship." (p 1)
In other words, Montesquieu's Considerations is an important work by an important political thinker.
What standard may one find in Montesquieu in order to judge the actions of Abraham Lincoln? In particular, Montesquieu makes the following observation about the nature of free states:
What makes free states last a shorter time than others is that both the misfortunes and the successes they encounter almost always cause them to lose their freedom. In a state where the people are held in subjection, however, successes and misfortunes alike confirm their servitude. A wise republic should hazard nothing that exposes it to either good or bad fortune. The only good to which it should aspire is the perpetuation of its condition [i.e., its condition as a free state, i.e. its freedom]. (p 92)
The reason for the limited life spans of free republics is the fact that crises and governmental actions — most especially wars — tend to grow the state at the expense of society. Calls for government action are necessarily calls for government power, and governments are not known for their fondness for giving up acquired powers.
The standard by which to judge Lincoln's actions, then, if one is concerned with the nature of America as a free state, is not whether Lincoln abolished slavery or fulfilled the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, but whether he preserved the free condition of the United States.
Two claims made by Ken Masugi, in his various pieces on Lincoln, stand out as problematic:
"Confederate heritage groups and civil rights groups, who disagree so bitterly about which monument should stand or who was...a hero, actually share major premises about the Civil War...Both sides agree on the prevalent view of American history, debunking Lincoln."
"The freedom to secede from the Union was equivalent to either anarchy or tyranny, both denials of government by consent."
With respect to the notion that the South denied "government by consent," the great H.L. Mencken ably shredded this notion in his famous critique of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:
....it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision of the rest of the country — and for nearly twenty years that veto was so efficient that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.
Mencken's piece was originally published in The Smart Set, May 1920. This was a mere 55 years after the end of the War Between the States. Think of it like a book published today discussing the Korean War. The war was still that recent when Mencken wrote. Reconstruction was even more recent. It had ended only 40 years before Mencken wrote. Think of it like a writer today discussing the Cuban missile crisis.
Worse, as Charles Adams notes in When in the Course of Human Events, Lincoln improperly dated American history in the Gettysburg Address:
To be accurate, Lincoln should have said "four score and two years ago," or better still, "three score and fourteen years ago." Even the Northern newspapers winced. The New York World sharply criticized this historical folly. "This United States" was not created by the Declaration of Independence but "the result of the ratification of a compact known as the Constitution." (194)
Lincoln simply spoke as if the Articles of Confederation had never existed.
Masugi, like Harry Jaffa, contends that "the Civil War was fought over the American proposition first proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal." As a necessary corollary of this claim, Masugi contends that the Confederate view holds that the Declaration of Independence did not include slaves or their descendants and that it provides no guidance for how we Americans were supposed to govern ourselves. The phrase "all men are created equal" was not intended to affirm universal freedom and rights; the whole document was simply a good-bye to Great Britain. Therefore, the Civil War could not have been fundamentally about slavery.
Similarly, in "A Lincoln for all Time — and Our Time," Masugi writes that "the central idea of secession" involved a rejection of the eternal higher law of the Declaration of Independence, "the laws of nature and of nature's God" and the equality of rights that underlies the Constitution....The true heirs of the Confederacy no longer wear gray — unless in a suit — but they share the Confederates' rejection of a moral truth transcending historical evolution. These latter-day rebels now dominate our universities, foundation boards, and other unelected positions of power. For these post-modern elites the very idea of constitutional government is an unwanted encumbrance on their appetites.
Masgui and Jaffa, then, contend that one part of the Declaration of Independence — "all men are created equal" — absolutely trumps another part — "governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed." Masugi attempts to eliminate the turning of the Declaration against itself by arguing that the South really sought to destroy government by consent. As Mencken noted, however, this claim is false: it was the South which fought for self-determination.
It also must be noted that someone forgot to tell Ven. Pope Pius IX about the Southern rejection of "the eternal higher law," as the Pope thought enough of the post-war persecution of Jefferson Davis to send the imprisoned Davis a crown of thorns — made by the Pope himself. As Gary Potter wonders,
Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church — the very one who promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, published to the world the famous Syllabus of Errors, and presided over the Vatican Council that solemnly defined the dogma of papal infallibility — seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?
Potter speculates that Pius IX may have taken an interest in Davis because of the many prominent Catholic families in the South, and because of the receptivity to Catholicism which characterized Southern culture. Perhaps more significantly, Pius IX himself had experienced the opposition of secessionist and nationalist movements as leader of the Papal States.
Pius IX, you see, was pope from 1846-78 (the longest pontificate in the history of the papacy), during which time Italy underwent the political transformation from disunited states to a centralized, national government. In 1848, because the Pope would not bring the Papal States to war with Catholic Austria, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the pope was denounced as a traitor to his country, his prime minister Rossi was stabbed to death while ascending the steps of the Cancelleria, whither he had gone to open the parliament, and on the following day the pope himself was besieged in the Quirinal. Palma, a papal prelate, who was standing at a window, was shot, and the pope was forced to promise a democratic ministry. With the assistance of the Bavarian ambassador, Count Spaur, and the French ambassador, Duc d'Harcourt, Pius IX escaped from the Quirinal in disguise, 24 November, and flet to Gaeta where he was joined by many of the cardinals. Meanwhile Rome was ruled by traitors and adventurers who abolished the temporal power of the pope, 9 February, 1849, and under the name of a democratic republic terrorized the people and committed untold outrages.
The Catholic Encyclopedia also notes that the doom of [Pius IX's] temporal power was sealed, when [in 1858] Cavour and Napoleon III met at Plombieres, concerting plans for a combined war against Austria and the subsequent territorial extension of the Sardinian Kingdom. They sent their agents into various cities of the Papal States to propagate the idea of a politically united Italy. The defeat of Austria at Magenta on 4 July, 1859, and the subsequent withdrawal of the Austrian troops from the papal legations, inaugurated the dissolution of the Papal States. The insurrection in some of the cities of the Romagna was put forth as a plea for annexing the provinces to the Piedmont in September, 1859. On 6 February, 1860, Victor Emmanuel demanded the annexation of Umbria and the Marches and, when Pius IX resisted this unjust demand, made ready to annex them by force.
Sound familiar? Perhaps Pope Pius IX sympathized with Jefferson Davis as a fellow victim of nationalist fervor.
(In 1853, by the way, Pius IX established my diocese — the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. During his pontificate, he also established nearly 20 other American dioceses, including Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Savannah, Brooklyn, Newark, Green Bay, Rochester, Scranton, San Antonio, and Providence).
Returning to Masugi's contentions, someone also forgot to tell the great Roman Catholic scholar, Lord Acton, about the South's "rejection of the eternal higher law." Acton famously wrote to Robert E. Lee:
"I saw in States Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy.... I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo."
(As an aside, Acton did not agree with Pius IX on the issue of Papal infallibility. Acton, however, dutifully shut his mouth and did not defy the Pope after the dogma was promulgated. Yet Acton and Pius IX agreed on their support for the CSA).
Someone also forgot to tell Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson about the evil of his cause. As related by James I. Robertson, Jr., after the battle of First Manassas (Bull Run to the Yankees), Jackson sent a letter home:
A crowd eager for news of the battle thronged the town post office when the mail arrived. Dr. William S. White immediately recognized Jackson's scrawl on the letter handed him. The minister cried out, "Now we shall know all the facts!" A hush settled over the townspeople. White then read the letter. "My dear pastor, in my tent last night, after a fatiguing day's service, I remembered that I had failed to send you my contribution for our colored Sunday school. Enclosed you will find a check for that object, which please acknowledge at your earliest convenience, and oblige yours faithfully, T.J. Jackson." (Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, p 271)
Also, if Masugi is correct, how does one explain the presence of "Deo Vindice" (Latin for "God as our Defender" on the Great Seal of the Confederacy?
Additionally, Masugi assumes that "the equality of rights that underlies the Constitution" which exists in 2001 is the same "equality of rights" underlying the Constitution as seen in 1861. Not so. This is not to argue that the Constitution is a "living document;" such a view, as I have previously written, is indefensible. This is to argue, however, that Masugi's view of the Constitution is very much a product of the way things happened to turn out in the 140 years since the Civil War began; his view of the Constitution was not in play at the time of the war.
Further, Masugi is incorrect in characterizing those persons who "dominate our universities, foundation boards, and other unelected positions of power" as inheritors of the Confederate tradition. Rather, these Marxist and post-modernist types are precisely those types whom the Confederacy opposed. There is nothing post-modern about the League of the South, for example, while the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Public Welfare, and other such groups have long lobbied for the expansion of the central state.
The Ford Foundation (1952-53) and Rockefeller Foundation (1956-57), it must be noted, sponsored Harry Jaffa's research for Crisis of the House Divided; Jaffa thanks them for their funding in the book. One is forced to wonder what foundations Masugi has in mind, unless the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations have changed radically since the 1950s.
If these foundations have changed since that time, they're keeping it a secret. The Rockefeller Foundation, for example, bills its "Louder than Words" report as follows: "Racial justice work is a central component of the Rockefeller Foundation's efforts to broaden economic and social opportunity in the United States." The Ford Foundation report "Common Needs, Common Ground" also does not appear to be the work of people who deny any higher laws about equality.
Indeed, attributing the insight to his reading of Jaffa's new book (ably criticized by Joseph Sobran and Myles Kantor), Masugi goes so far as to explicitly label Bill Clinton as a "true heir of the Confederacy:"
It is plain from Jaffa's New Birth of Freedom that today's most prominent representative of the abiding message of the Confederacy is not some Civil War re-enactor and certainly not Attorney General John Ashcroft but rather the sort who dispute "what the meaning of is is."
Civil War re-enactors and the readers of Southern Partisan, which famously interviewed John Ashcroft, might be surprised to learn that Clinton is their true role model.
Ignored by Masugi is Ashcroft's praise for the Southern cause; the lecherous Clinton has no such respect for the South. Of course, if you are out to demonize the South, it is better to ignore Ashcroft than confront his actual views. It is also better to ignore the fact that, like Bill Clinton's top contributors, Lincoln was a trial lawyer, and that, like Clinton, Lincoln demonized opponents of his policies. As Clinton once blamed "right wing talk radio" for Timothy McVeigh's act of mass murder,
To doubt the president's wisdom — to question his decision for war — was treason. Lincoln's logic became holy writ on stone tablets for the faithful. There were only two classes of citizens — those who followed the president's line and traitors. (When in the Course of Human Events, p 211)
Thus, under Lincoln, the alleged defender of American liberty, military authorities soon began imprisoning prominent secessionists without trial. The writ of habeas corpus was a constitutional safeguard to prevent such imprisonments without sufficient legal cause, and one of the incarcerated Marylanders, John Merryman, attempted an appeal on that basis. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, sitting as a circuit judge, ordered Merryman released, but federal officials, acting under Lincoln's orders, refused. The aging Chief Justice, just three years from death's door, thereupon issued a blistering opinion holding that only Congress had the constitutional right to suspend habeas corpus. The President "certainly does not faithfully execute the laws, if he takes upon himself legislative power, by suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and the judicial power also, by arresting and imprisoning a person without due process of law," declared Taney. If Lincoln's action was allowed to stand, then "the people of the United States are no longer living under a Government of laws, but every citizen holds life, liberty and property at the will and pleasure of the army officer in whose military district he may happen to be found."
Lincoln simply ignored Taney's opinion. He also wrote out standing orders for the Chief Justice's arrest, although these were never served. (Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, p 142)
Shortly after Taney's opinion was issued, Lincoln arrested 31 Maryland legislators, the mayor of Baltimore (the nation's 3rd largest city at the time), a U.S. Congressman from Maryland, and anti-war publishers and editors. (Hummel 143).
It may be recalled that the Clinton administration exhibited a Lincolnian contempt for the law by instructing federal agencies to ignore rulings from the U.S. Courts of Appeals, as if only the United States Supreme Court were competent to declare the meaning of federal law.
It should be noted at this point that it is no defense for Lincoln that the CSA also violated civil liberties during the war. Mark Neely, who has documented Lincoln's abuse of civil liberties in The Fate of Liberty, treats this fact not only as a shocking revelation, but as a vindication of Lincoln's acts in his later book, Southern Rights: Political Prisoners and the Myth of Confederate Constitutionalism. If the CSA also violated civil liberties, the argument goes, then those who justify secession cannot hold similar violations against Lincoln, nor can they claim that the CSA stood for constitutional government.
This argument completely misses the point of bringing Lincoln's record to light: the South is already demonized, while Lincoln is lionized in part because his abuse of civil liberties is not widely known.
Tibor Machan, in "Rethinking the Civil War," describes how he changed his view of the civl war over time. As part of this account, Machan mentions his surprise at learning of Lincoln's disregard for civil liberties. The reason this surprised Machan, he states, is that this fact of Lincoln's reign did not fit with the established mythology he had been fed in the public schools.
More significantly, Hummel points out that the restrictions of civil liberties in the CSA contributed to the failure of the southern drive for independence. Contrary to Neely's provocative subtitle, it is precisely because Southerners were fighting to defend constitutional government that abuses of civil liberties by the CSA so demoralized the South.
The Southern military situation in 1865, Hummel contends, was far from being an unequivocal Union victory. In fact, it was closer to the situation facing George Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge in 1778, when the British held the American capital of Philadelphia (p 282). Rather than persevere like George Washington, the "never surrender" South surrendered in part because the centralization of power in Richmond subverted the war aim of preserving constitutional order. Hummel adds another little discussed explanation for the surrender: the deeply religious South began to believe that their sufferings were the result of the sin of slavery. "By the war's second year, a significant movement within southern churches was agitating for such reforms as prohibiting the separation of slave children from their mothers, admitting slave testimony in courts, and permitting slave religious assemblies." (p 283)
Pace Ken Masugi and the Claremont Institute, Sheldon Vanauken — a noted Catholic scholar, and a friend and student of another noted denier of "higher laws," C.S. Lewis — points out the true cause of the war while laying the blame for the moral degeneracy of contemporary civilization at the feet of Honest Abe:
The states of the deep South dissolved their connection with the voluntary union of the United States with marked legality at the beginning of 1861. For a quarter of a year no one knew that there was to be a war. Then Lincoln (unauthorised by the Constitution) called for troops; and the upper South, led by Virginia, seceded. War was Lincoln's choice. The point is, Lincoln could have chosen to let the South go in peace on the grounds that just government depends on the consent of the governed, and the Southern states had withdrawn that consent. But, said the North, the majority do consent, since there are more people in the North. Even if most of the people in the South do not consent, we in the North are the majority of the whole nation...This is precisely what de Tocqueville warned against: the tyranny of the majority.
The America of today is the America that won that immense triumph in the war — the triumph of unlimited, equalitarian democracy. And its leaders have blurred the distinction between freedom and equality to the point where many people use those words as virtually interchangeable terms. ‘Freedom from want' implying every man's equal right to food may indeed be a right but it is not freedom; it is his freedom, though, to take action to improve his needy state. What most people are unaware of is that freedom and equality, though revolutionaries may shout of both, are uneasy bedfellows and, in fact, often opposed, each tending to limit the other. Nearly every law designed to bring about greater equality, as so many of the laws of the late-twentieth century do intend, limits freedom. The freedom of the bright student to learn swiftly is limited by equalitarian schools for the average.
The Southern nation, after a brief, intense, and heroic existence, was defeated, and then, as a conquered province, was subjected to the demeaning brutalities of ‘Reconstruction' and subsequently to economic discrimination. (The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy, pp 142-43)
But there is no need to take Sheldon Vanauken's word for it: Lincoln's own Attorney General agrees:
The long war had contributed to a breakdown everywhere both in prevailing ehtical norms and in the distinction between public and private spheres. "The demoralising effect of this civil war," wrote Edward Bates, Lincoln's first Attorney General, "is plainly visible in every department of life. The abuse of official powers and the thirst for dishonest gain are now so common that they cease to shock." The same Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment also, without a second thought, voted itself a hefty pay raise, and the flagrancy of a subsequent salary grab in 1873 shamed Congress into repealing it. The Grant era became so notorious for its political bribery that it has gone down in history as the Great Barbecue. In the words of a Carpetbag governor of Louisiana: "I don't pretend to be honest. I only pretend to be as honest as anybody in politics....Why, damn it, everybody is demoralizing down here. Corruption is the fashion." (Hummel 314)
Lincoln, then, and not the Confederate States of America, has a greater guilt for the ensuing moral degeneracy of American culture, if guilt is to be apportioned between them (one must be careful not to venture into determinism).
Noted Civil War historian James McPherson also contends that Abe Lincoln is properly seen as having expanded the government: "This astonishing blitz of laws...did more to reshape the relation of the government to the economy than any comparable effort except perhaps the first hundred days of the New Deal." (Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, p. 40, cited in James Ostrowski, "Was the Union Army's Invasion of the Confederate States A Lawful Act?," Chapter 8 of Secession, State and Liberty, ed. David Gordon, p. 156).
Finally, Masugi simply cannot come up with high enough praise for Harry Jaffa's most recent book, A New Birth of Freedom:
Amidst the changes following a bitter, disputed election, Americans must wonder whether there is any truth besides cynical truth in politics....Fortunately, this Lincoln's birthday we have a means of assessing all the partisan claims in light of our greatest political figure. Harry V. Jaffa's long-awaited A New Birth of Freedom enables us to separate superficialities from the substance and rediscover who we are as Americans.
First, there is no truth besides cynical truth in politics. The emperor has no clothes. You are better off not deceiving yourself. Second, even if Jaffa's book is the greatest book written since the Bible, Masugi's claim is untenable. The notion of "who we are as Americans" is not likely to be contained in any single book, let alone an extended reflection on the Gettysburg Address.
Worse, Jaffa and Masugi's view of "who we are as Americans" appears to be defined by reference to the victorious Northern view of the war and what it means to be an American. Such a view is necessarily skewed.
In Conversations with Shelby Foote, the esteemed novelist and historian makes the point that the Confederates were just as much Americans as the Northerners, a point which appears too frequently lost on Yankees. As Foote relates in an interview with William C. Carter,
[Carter:] Some of the French critics say that you are persuaded of the long-term failure of the American adventure. Would you elaborate on that interpretation, if you agree with it?
[Foote:] I do agree with it, and I think it's an advantage that the Southern artist has, whether it's in music or sculpture or painting or writing. I'm often amazed to hear the frequent quote, "We Americans have never lost a war." You hear it all the time: "Never lost a war" — at least you heard it before Vietnam. I know some Americans who certainly lost a war — lost it about as thoroughly as a war can be lost, and afterwards got ground into the dirt harder than most any losers I know — and they lived in the South. That gave us, by inheritance, a true sense of tragedy. We do not believe that all noble experiments are bound to succeed. We know at least one noble experiment that failed miserably. We don't have the bright outlook that everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, because our history taught us differently.
And while the war was not always in the forefront of our consciousness, it operated very strongly in our unconscious and on our manners and our morals. For instance, Vicksburg fell on the fourth day of July. The Fourth of July throughout my childhood and young manhood was never celebrated in Mississippi. One year a couple was there from Ohio — why they were there I do not know — and they drove their car up on the levee, spread out their blanket, and had a picnic on the levee to celebrate the Fourth. They forgot to set the brakes of the car properly and it rolled down the levee and into the river; everybody said it served them right for celebrating the Fourth.
But this true sense of tragedy on a large scale is a very Southern heritage, whereas for a Northerner it's a true sense of triumph. Northerners believe that all the virtues conquered because they are now the virtues, but Southerners don't believe that virtue necessarily conquers because we believe strongly in the virtues of our forbears. We don't believe that government of and by and for the people would have perished from the earth if the South had won the war, although we are required to memorize those very words in school. It's very strange what power there is in literary skill. We memorize Lincoln's Gettysburg Address because he phrased it so well; we don't even hear what it's saying. (261-62)
Realistically, what would the North have the South do? Forget the grandfathers, fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons who died, or the mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters who were raped by the invading forces of the United States?
Is that realistic, or is it just downright offensive? For the record, Adams contends that "The slaughter of Confederate men only matched, on a proportional basis, the losses incurred by the Russians and the Germans in World War II." (When in the Course of Human Events, p 195). Hummel notes that the losses of the CSA are close to those suffered by the French in World War I, but slightly less than suffered by the Germans in World War II (p 282). For the sake of perspective, it should be noted that half of the male babies born in France in 1900 died in World War I.
Ultimately, Foote may be correct about the failure of the American adventure. Forrest McDonald notes in States' Rights and the Union that
Patriots of all stripes accepted the primacy of the states as a fact of political life, but they were far from unanimously happy about it...Nationally oriented groups in the middle states and lower South tended to be aristocrats (Hudson Valley patroons in New York, rice plantation families in the lower South) or wealthy merchants in Philadelphia who regarded states' rights republicans as radical democrats posing a genuine threat to social and political stability...The two groups had hardened into factions in Congress before the end of 1776, and their enmity and mutual distrust continued after the war. (pp 11-12)
In fact, the "enmity and mutual distrust" continued into the Alien and Sedition Acts, then into the War of 1812, and ultimately into the War for Southern Independence; it continues to this day in the struggle between those who want "more freedom, less government" and those who thirst for unlimited government.
More importantly, it must be made explicit that within five months of the Declaration of Independence, those Americans, or, rather, those British subjects living in Britain's American colonies, who had joined together to gain independence from Britain (i.e., to secede), were drifting toward disunion because they did not share substantive notions of political philosophy. Although the colonists were able to unite in their desire to be free of English oppression, they were not able to unite in their desires for shaping the new American nation.
As other writers have argued, the philosophical divide between the North and South may be traced to the divide between Massachusetts Puritans and Virginia planters, and back to the divisions in England between Cavaliers and Roundheads (Cromwell's Puritans).
The history of American differences in political philosophy aside, the Northern view of the war glosses over or mishandles important questions about secession and the Northern conduct of the war.
First, the disenfranchisement of Southerners who had supported the Confederacy, and the attendant "loyalty oaths" which were imposed upon them, come very close to an inquisition. As the Northern abolitionist Lysander Spooner wrote of the oaths,
On general principles of law and reason, all the oaths which, since the war, have been given by Southern men, that they will obey the laws of Congress, support the Union, and the like, are of no validity. Such oaths are invalid, not only because they were extorted by military power, and threats of confiscation...they are in contravention of men's natural right to do as they please about supporting the government
Loyalty oaths have become anathema in the United States, in part because they were used against Communists. And yet it is apparently laudable that the North imposed such oaths.
Second, despite Abraham Lincoln's flaming lie that "the Union is older than the states" — which makes as much sense as the claim that "my marriage is older than my wife and I" — Article One of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783, which ended the American War of Independence, states that
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.
In international law, a "state" is an entity that has 1) a defined territory and 2) a permanent population, 3) under control of its own government, 4) that engages in, or has capacity to engage in, formal relations with such other entities. The American colonies, then, were "states," just like France is a "state."
Statehood is also founded on the recognition of a state by other sovereign states. Pope Pius IX, head of the Papal States, consistently addressed Jefferson Davis as the President of the CSA.
These standards of international law have been adopted by the United States. They are not standards which the United States refuses to recognize. Thus, the American states, for purposes of international law, even if they did not meet the four criteria already, came to be sovereign nations when they were recognized by England. And, as a matter of international law, the CSA was a "state" as well. It had 1) territory, 2) population, 3) control by its government, and 4) it engaged in formal relations with other states, e.g. the Papal States.
The federal courts took contradictory approaches to secession. James Ostrowski points out that:
In Coleman v. Tennessee, the Supreme Court held military occupation lawful, not on constitutional grounds, but by resorting to international law principles...Thus, to justify the otherwise unconstitutional military occupation of a state, the Supreme Court treats that state as if it were an independent nation, implicitly recognizing the validity of its secession. (174).
And yet in Virginia v. West Virginia (1870), the syllabus preceding the case declares that
A convention professing to represent the State of Virginia, which assembled in Richmond in February, 1861, attempted by a so-called ‘ordinance of secession' to separate that State from the Union, and combined with certain other Southern States to accomplish that separation by arms. The people of the northwestern part of the State, who were separated from the eastern part by a succession of mountain ranges and had never received the heresy of secession, refused to acquiesce in what had been thus done, and organized themselves to defend and maintain the Federal Union. The idea of a separate State government soon developed itself; and an organic convention of the State of Virginia, which in June, 1861, organized the State on loyal principles-‘the Pierpont government'- and which new organization was acknowledged by the President and Congress of the United States as the true State government of Virginia-passed August 20th, 1861, an ordinance by which they ordained that a new State be formed and erected out of the territory included within certain boundaries...
On this view, the state of Virginia didn't really secede, and the state legislature wasn't really the state legislature — it was just a convention "professing to represent" Virginia. Those guys! And it was the South which started the war. And so, the loyal state of Virginia (which had never left the Union), decided to make West Virginia out of itself. On this view, secession, it must be noted, was not merely an incorrect legal theory but a "heresy."
Northern political philosophy dances back and forth in an incoherent daze. Had the Southern states actually left the union, such that they had to be readmitted, or had the Southern states only attempted to leave the union? As Hummel observes,
because most Northerners agreed that the seceding states had not legally left the Union, these states counted toward the total for ratifying the [13th] Amendment. Only their ratifications, coupled with those from the North, provided the necessary three-fourths...The reconstructed governments were...in the anomalous position of being recognized by the President but not by Congress, of being legitimate for the purpose of ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment but not for the purpose of having representation within the national government. (Hummel, 297, 299)
Both claims, however, cannot be true. Either the Southern states left, and were re-admitted to the Union they had left, or the Southern states did not leave, in which case they did not need to be re-admitted.
The consequences of the Northern inability to take a consistent view of the Southern secession are overwhelming. Justice George Comstock, a member of the New York Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state, despite the name) and a founder of Syracuse University, observed that if Mr. Davis is right as to all the circumstances and results flowing from separation, then the seceded states are the rightful possession of a perfect sovereignty...[the Civil War then] was a war of invasion and conquest, for which there is no warrant in the Constitution, but which is condemned by the rules of Christianity, and the law of the civilized world. (When in the Course of Human Events, 182).
And yet the federal courts do not consistently decide whether the Southern states did or did not leave the union, nor do they adopt a consistent theory to explain either side of the question.
Third, although at least four Southern states make legal arguments in their Declarations of Secession (which were issued after the states had seceded, by way of explanation and legal justification) which mention slavery, they do not do so to incite popular support for secession. For one, secession was already desired by the populace. Second, if the intention were to engender popular support for secession by reference to slavery, this was a manifest failure; as Tom DiLorenzo notes in "Libertarians and the Confederate Battle Flag," the evidence of thousands upon thousands of letters written by Confederate soldiers fails to disclose mention of slavery as a reason for fighting. Instead, the soldiers professed to be fighting for liberty and independence.
Instead, the declarations mention slavery as proof of the fact that the federal government, as well as the northern states, already had destroyed the constitution, therefore relieving the southern states of any obligation to remain in the union; indeed, the declarations go so far as to declare it a duty to secede to escape such abuses. The South Carolina declaration, for example, argues that
The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments on the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
The declarations of secession issued by South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas are explicitly legalistic, and read like complaints for breach of contract. The documents mention slavery in reference to the federal government's selective enforcement of the laws, as well as its unconstitutional support for Northern manufacturing interest by means of tariffs upon imports (which were paid by Southern planters).
These four states, then, can be said to have seceded over the failure of federal authorities to protect slavery and the federal tariffs, both of which were seen as failures to uphold the Constitution.
(By the way, as Thomas DiLorenzo notes in "Yankee Confederates: New England Secession Movements Prior to the War Between the States" (Chapter 7 of Secession, State and Liberty), these are exactly the same sort of arguments made by Northern Federalists such as John Quincy Adams (the 6th president) in 1803 over the Louisiana Purchase, in 1809 over the embargo, and at the Hartford Convention in 1814 over the War of 1812).
It must be noted, however, that the entire South did not secede at the same time. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina seceded only after Lincoln's unconstitutional call for troops to invade the states who had already seceded. Thus, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel (p 8) argues that slavery and secession must be viewed as separate issues; even if some states seceded over slavery, this does not automatically justify a war to prevent such secession.
Fourth, the Union Army's treatment of the South was criminal. Sherman's march to the sea was the very definition of barbarism. As Charles Adams notes (Chapter 8), at the same time as the war was going on, the first Geneva Convention (1863) formalized the laws of war which nations had recognized for nearly 300 years. Included among war crimes under international law were: 1) attacking defenseless cities and towns, 2) plundering and destroying civilian property, and 3) confiscating non-necessities from civilians, or not paying for necessities which were taken. Sherman's march to the sea violated all three norms of international law.
The disregard for international law in the destruction of the South is instructive. Stalin famously wondered how many divisions the Pope had at his disposal. In this case, Lincoln had more troops than Jeff Davis. As is often remarked, the only thing proved by the war was that an industrial nation with a population of 20 million could militarily defeat an agricultural nation with a population of 9 million.
This brings to mind the trial and execution of Charles I. At his trial, Charles demanded to know "by whose authority" he was being tried, since it is "the authority of the King in Parliament" which was held to empower Parliament to act. Of course, the Parliament never answered his question, because the only answer was that Parliament had no authority over the king. And so Charles I was executed. (For two great accounts of the reign and death of Charles I, see Charles I: The Personal Monarch, 2nd Ed., by Charles Carlton, and Charles I, part of the British History in Perspective series, by Michael B. Young). It is a hard truth to accept, but sometimes human beings act as if might makes right, and the law be damned.
No wonder Robert E. Lee, in 1870, told the former Confederate governor of Texas, Fletcher Stockdale: "Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people [Yankees] designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." (When in the Course of Human Events, 219-20).
The cases of the CSA and Charles I are not isolated events. Bonnie Prince Charlie, for example, is acknowledged to have had the legal right to the English throne — and yet he died trying to enforce his right. The USA systematically broke numerous treaties with the Indian tribes, who remain, to this day, the poster-nation for federal welfare "largesse," with third-world poverty and health statistics. The Baltic republics of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — allegedly "liberated" by the Soviets — remained under Soviet rule for roughly 40 years. Poland has spent the majority of her history as the conquered province of various empires. The "enlightened" European nations which opposed American slavery spent the next 100 years carving out territorial empires in Africa.
All too often in human affairs, might makes right.
One key to the preservation of Western civilization is to acknowledge that such a state of affairs is unjust and immoral.
In that regard, the proper view of Abraham Lincoln is essential to the restoration of American liberty.
The historical difficulty in adjudicating cases of secession, and therefore in arguing over the fate of the South, is that there is no judge in a case of secession. Since international law holds statehood and recognition to be political questions, might tends to make right in the international arena. Where the colonial secession from England is concerned, there was no dispute because the two parties — the colonies and England — agreed among themselves to end their hostilities and go their separate ways.
When the American states later changed their system of government from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of 1789, Britain and France did not complain because this was an internal arrangement of the colonies, similar in international significance to the question of whether to call one house of the legislature the Upper House or the Senate, or whether to paint the Senate chambers blue or red.
But secession tends to be a political question because if a state secedes, a new state comes into being that did not exist before, with territory and people that used to "belong" to another state. All the legal arguments merely attempt, as Ostrowski notes Abe Lincoln did in Congress, to persuade the politicians how to act in practice. Ultimately, might made right for Abraham Lincoln, flowery rhetoric notwithstanding.
In conclusion, consider Lincoln's actions by the standard found in Montesquieu: have Lincoln's actions served to preserve the free condition of the United States? In a word, no.
Overwhelmingly, the evidence demonstrates that Lincoln did not preserve the freedom of the United States, but expanded governmental power at the expense of individual liberty.
Lincoln's only claim to have acted for liberty is that he freed the slaves. Ignoring for the sake of argument the great problems with this claim, what sort of freedom is today enjoyed by the descendants of the freed slaves? The freedom to do what the government (whether federal, state, or local) allows them to do, and no more. This is of course not to endorse or defend the abomination which is slavery. Slavery is the ultimate denial of human liberty. Rather, this is to point out that Lincoln's war, and his handling of the end of slavery in America, was a long-term disaster for American liberty:
the Civil War [is] America's real turning point. In the years ahead, coercive authority would wax and wane with year-to-year circumstances, but the long-term trend would be unmistakable. Henceforth there would be no more major victories of Liberty over Power. In contrast to the whittling away of government that had preceded Fort Sumter, the United States had commenced its halting but inexorable march toward the welfare-warfare state of today. (Hummel 359)
Marshall DeRosa, in The Confederate Constitution of 1861: An Inquiry into American Constitutionalism, provides quotations from Richard Henry Lee and T.S. Eliot which parallel Montesquieu's concern:
Richard Henry Lee, 1787: The present moment discovers a new face in our affairs. Our object has been all along to reform our federal system and to strengthen our governments, to establish peace, order and justice in the community; but a new object now presents. The plan of government now proposed is evidently calculated totally to change, in time, our condition as a people. Instead of being thirteen republics under a federal head, it is clearly designed to make us one consolidated government...This consolidation of the states has been the object of several men in this country for some time past. Whether such a change can ever be effected in any manner, whehter it can be effected without convulsions and civil wars, whether such a change will not totally destroy the liberties of this country, time can only determine.
T.S. Eliot, 1949: The real revolution in that country was not what is called the Revolution, but is a consequence of the Civil War; after which arose a plutocratic elite; after which the expansion and material development of the country was accelerated; after which was swollen that stream of mixed immigration, bringing (or rather multiplying) the danger of development into a caste system which has not yet been quite dispelled. For the sociologist, the evidence from America is not yet ripe.
Lee wrote at the time of the ratification of the Constitution; T.S. Eliot wrote in the aftermath of World War II. Fifty-two years since Eliot wrote, the evidence of American public life demonstrates that government power has continued to expand, while the realm of American liberty has grown ever smaller. This is not a good thing. As Jose Ortega y Gasset observed in 1930, "The result of this tendency will be fatal. Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention; no new seed will be able to fructify. Society will have to live for the State, man for the governmental machine." (The Revolt of the Masses).
Lincoln declared that he fought the war to preserve the Union, and indeed, he did so. The Union, however, was preserved in name only, while the formerly free condition of America was subjugated to the power of government. This is the reason for Hummel's title — Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men — which, ironically, comes from a cautionary speech given by Lincoln. In his address before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838, "The young Lincoln was warning about the potential danger of a future Napoleon subverting the United States Constitution." As Lincoln stated, "Towering genius disdains a beaten path...It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen." (Hummel 366)
Returning to Montesquieu, consider his account of the nature of political unions:
What is called union in a body politic is a very equivocal thing. The true kind is a union of harmony, whereby all the parts, however opposed they may appear, cooperate for the general good of society — as dissonances in music cooperate in producing overall concord. In a state where we seem to see nothing but commotion there can be union — that is, a harmony resulting in happiness, which alone is true peace. It is as with the parts of the universe, eternally linked together by the action of some and the reaction of others. (93)
Following Montesquieu's account, the "true kind of union" must be seen to have died with secession, if not earlier. What sort of union, then, did Lincoln preserve by force of arms? As Montesquieu continues,
in the concord of Asiatic despotism — that is, of all government which is not moderate — there is always real dissension. The worker, the soldier, the lawyer, the magistrate, the noble are joined only inasmuch as some oppress the others without resistance. And, if we see any union there, it is not citizens who are united but dead bodies buried one next to the other." (94)
Recall that the quotation is taken from Montesquieu's Considerations on the fall of the Romans. In the works of the Roman historians, references to "Asiatic despots" are not uncommon. The reason for this is that, after the fall of the Republic, even the emperors were allegedly answerable to the people through the Senate, unlike the absolutist "Asian" monarchs whom the Romans encountered. In Rome, citizens possessed liberties which even the emperors were not supposed to violate.
Once upon a time, this was also true in America.
By: Walter Williams
From our brothers at LewRockwell.com
The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the 13 colonies “to be free, sovereign and independent states.” These 13 sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact — secede.
During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, “A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
In fact, the ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty — in a word, secede.
On March 2, 1861, after seven states seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that read, “No state or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”
Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S.
Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s a question for the reader: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?
On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.”
Both Northern Democratic and Republican Parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded states, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content.” The New York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”
The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. We Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech: “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”
The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States have little or no response.
Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit theCreators Syndicate web page
By Paul Gottfried
Yesterday afternoon I heard a black civic leader in Columbia, South Carolina being interviewed about the just completed removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the statehouse grounds. The lady from FOX who did the interview wanted to know about the satisfaction experienced by the black leader in light of the events that had just unfolded. Her interviewee expressed his elation and mentioned the “unbelievable joy” that overwhelmed the black crowd that gathered to see the hated flag come down. “We all hugged each other,” he explained. “We would no longer have to look at it.” This negative reaction to the flag was also expressed by black legislators during the deliberations in the South Carolina senate. The listener was made to believe that American blacks were enduring a continuing nightmare that had created severe emotional problems. It seems this neurasthenia would go on until the hated cloth was dragged down, not only in South Carolina but everywhere else it was displayed. Presumably black crime and social dysfunctionality would also plummet, as all traumatizing symbols of the Confederacy were antiseptically purged.
This black reaction seems to have been totally scripted; and I have no reason to believe that blacks are sickened by the sight of the Battle Flag wherever it’s exhibited. They are engaging in the ritual of being aggrieved. Like other designated victim minorities, including my fellow-Jews, they are full of righteous indignation about past discrimination and symbols of their oppression, whenever the outsider brings up the subject. But 40% of South Carolina blacks in a recent poll cited by Jonah Goldberg
registered no objection to seeing the Battle Flag flying from the statehouse grounds; and several years ago, whites and blacks voted in Mississippi to retain the state flag
, which contains a Confederate Battle Flag design. In Mississippi GOP leaders tried to dump the state flag.
The most interesting aspect of the war against Confederate symbols is not its predictable backing from black activist groups or the leftist media or members of the Rainbow Coalition. Those are the sources of support one would expect to find in this campaign. Far more striking is the overwhelming, effusive help that is coming from elements of what is imagined to be the conservative movement. Whether we look at the Murdoch media, listen to Republican office-holders throughout the South, or read statements prepared for our capitalist CEOs, the message is hardly different from that of black civil rights activists and organizational heads. Not at all surprising is the evidence of the usual Republican game of triangulating, which takes the form of doing anything to win groups on the left while assuming that what there is of a Right will stay with the GOP. Unfortunately, this game has done very well among Southern whites, who continue to vote overwhelmingly for any so-called moderate the party throws at them, whether McCain, W, or Lindsey Graham.
Among neoconservatives, the repugnance for Southern white society and culture has long been evident, and it seems that one encounters escalating effusions of hate from neoconservative celebrities that were it directed against their own ethnicity would evoke understandable outrage. Just the other day the latest neocon candidate for the title “hating Southerners the most” Jeff Jacoby ranted in all the usual venues of conservatism, inc. that the Battle Flag banner “is the emblem of the most poisonous ideologies in our national history.” Jacoby fulminated against “the hatefulness of the proposition” for which Southern soldiers “were prepared to kill or be killed.” One wonders whether authorized “conservative” sources would publish the invective of a Palestinian whose family had been expelled from their land by Israeli soldiers if he offered a similar rant against the Israeli flag. Just wondering!
What has struck me perhaps the most about this dispute over Confederate symbols is how Republican governors and congressmen have been acting throughout the American South. They have been frenetically dumping on the symbols of their ancestors’ heroism, which they regard as an offense against the black race. Somehow I doubt any of this self-rejection will cost Southern politicians their positions. Opposition to their actions has not been as vocal as one might have expected. While the Left held large demonstrations against the Battle Flag and the retention of the names of Confederate heroes on Southern streets and Southern monuments, the defenders of the Southern heritage were far less visible on the streets. Despite the valiant efforts of my friendRichard Hines and his daughter Kathleen
to mobilize resistance against the anti-Southern Left in South Carolina, their efforts have not yielded promising results. Politicians have gone with the media flow and avoided any visible celebration of Jeff Jacoby’s object of hate
. It was also instructive to hear white Republicans in the South Carolina Senate apologizing to irate blacks for not having voted to remove the flag sooner. I could not even imagine Japanese, Jews, blacks or members of any one of a multitude of other ethnic groups behaving with such obsequiousness toward those who scorn them and their ancestors. Why the Southern whites have been reduced to this undignified posture is a question that warrants investigation.
Close Southern friends of mine, including the historian Boyd Cathey and the former federal judge Samuel Currin in North Carolina and Professor Clyde Wilson in South Carolina, blame this unsettling change in their region on the corrupting influence of the Republican Party. Once Southerners switched in the 1960s from the Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party (which had lost any standing among the national Democrats) to the GOP, they joined a party over which they had little long-term control. The Republicans felt free to spurn the Southern white heritage, and their propagandists could even spew hatred on it while appealing to the party’s Northern base and while trying to expand its appeal among racial minorities. Moreover, Southern whites went along with the GOP, no matter how often it attacked Confederate icons and symbols and no matter how often it placed Southern districts under prolonged federal supervision because of the evidence of low black voter turnout in the South before the civil rights revolution. All the same, Southern whites did get one big prize from the Republican command, military bases and military operations from which their region has benefited disproportionately. They were also given the opportunity to vent their proverbial bellicosity, which was conspicuous by its absence during the Battle Flag crisis, by volunteering to kill the enemies of “American democracy.”
Although I shall readily concede that white Southerners made a Devil’s pact with the GOP, it seems that something more may be at work in what has occurred in the white South. Like other parts of the country, the South has been exposed to the media, public education, and popular culture, all forces that tilt strongly toward the left. And while these vehicles of indoctrination treat some groups as noble victims, Southern whites are not among them. More typically Southern whites, especially before the present era, are depicted as stupid bigots and religious fanatics, and certainly not shown in a way that the young would want to identify with.
I would also assume that like other predominantly Northern European Protestant societies analyzed in my books
, Southern whites are wracked by social guilt that political, religious and cultural elites have all contributed to instilling. It is unlikely that those Republicans I saw bowing and scraping before hostile blacks were simply looking out for their political careers. They seemed anguished by the disfavor shown by a group they were supposed to have victimized, the way George W. Bush was when he was attacked by a black Democrat as a racist. When such a usually stalwart figure of the Right as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama laments that the Battle Flag had been “commandeered for anti-civil rights”;
and that though a revered ancestor of his fell at Antietam fighting for the Southern cause, he is conflicted by the issue before the South Carolina senate, I have no reason to think Sessions is triangulating. Even traditional Southerner have been made to feel ashamed of their politically incorrect past.
On another topic, allow me to note that I think the battle over the Battle Flag has nothing to do with hating blacks and perhaps increasingly less to do with the War Between the States (which is misleadingly designated in the US as a “civil war.”) It has become a symbol of rebellion against an overreaching, highly centralized managerial regime, and it was not by accident that those protesting Soviet control in the 1980s waved the Confederate Battle Flag in public demonstrations
. This banner no more indicates a predilection for black bondage than the appearance a few years ago of the Cathar flag in Toulouse and other cities in Languedoc signified the reemergence of the gnostic heresy that once swept southwestern France. This heresy
, which treats physical desire, including procreation, as totally evil, led to a crusade against the Cathars (or Albigensians) in the twelfth century, in which many in their region were slaughtered. Curiously the celebration of the Cathars (that is, those who are cleansed in Greek) has now spread to gay and lesbian groups, since the adherents of this strange cult considered procreative sex between men and women to be particularly loathsome. Flags assume changing meanings as historical circumstances undergo change.
I must also question whether the American flag, which the KKK happily waved for many decades
and carried in a mass parade in Washington, D.C. in 1925, will be pulled down next. Unless I’m mistaken, it seems that the large Klan representations produced by such states as Indiana and New Jersey typically featured the Union flag, not the Battle Flag. But this is all rather academic. The ruling class has too much invested in the American national flag, which is now intertwined with such interests as aggressive liberal internationalism, the civil rights movement, and the reign of our first black and certainly most leftist American president, to give up the national banner. Old Glory is here to stay, no matter how loudly some defenders of the Battle Flag have been warning us that the American flag is next on the hit list. If the establishment decides to go after another offensive symbol, it may be a Christian cross, perhaps on the Maryland state flag. Although Southern white Christians may have pride of place in the media rogues’ gallery, devout Christians are not far behind.
By Thomas DiLorenzo
Translating from Washingtonese, this mean that he is somewhat of a fascist who looks down his nose at constitutionalism; an imperialist and propagandist for the state who earns his income spinning tall tales about the alleged benefits of aggressive war; and a nationalist who believes not in national but governmental “greatness.” These are all the main ingredients of a modern Lincoln cultist, as Brooks demonstrated in an April 7 New York Times
column entitled “What Candidates Need.”
“I have two presidential election traditions,” Brooks wrote. “I begin covering each campaign by reading a book about Abraham Lincoln [probably not one by Yours Truly], and I end each election night, usually after midnight, at the statue of the Lincoln Memorial.”
Brooks should be credited with bravery for being anywhere in public in Washington, D.C., The Town That Lincoln Built, after midnight. He does not say if he holds a séance there, or just prays at the foot of the gigantic statue of the corporate lawyer/lobbyist in an armchair that is the Lincoln Memorial.
Reading most books about Lincoln by “Lincoln scholars” will generally make one stupid and misinformed, as Brooks very ably demonstrates. This is because all such books are bundles of excuses, phony rationales, and fabrications. They are all written like defense briefs in The War Crimes Trial of Abraham Lincoln, authored by third-rate lawyers or law students. Being a “Lincoln scholar” means fabricating an excuse for everything
. The bigger and more elaborate the excuse, the more “prestigious” is the “Lincoln scholar.”
For example, when the high priestess of the Lincoln cult, Doris Kearns-Goodwin, wrote in her book, Team of Rivals
, of how Lincoln was actually the source and promoter of the CorwinAmendment to the Constitution, which would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery, shepraised
him for it. Rather than condemning him for supporting the explicit enshrinement of slavery in the text of the U.S. Constitution, Goodwin heaped praise on Lincoln because this slick political maneuver, she said, helped “save” the political fortunes of the Republican Party.
Another example is how, in his last book on Lincoln, Harry Jaffa tried for the ten-thousandth time in his career to explain away Lincoln’s admonition in one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates that he was “opposed to making voters or jurors of Negroes.” Lincoln opposed giving “Negroes” the right to vote in the 1850s, Jaffa wrote, so that they could have the right to vote in the 1950s. This of course is absurd nonsense but also a good example of the dishonest academic hocus pocus known as “Straussianism.”
Then there is the book, Lincoln’s Melancholy
, by Joshua Wolf Shenk. The book describes Abe Lincoln’s various mental illnesses, including severe depression that caused wild mood swings, for which Abe took a mid-nineteenth-century “medicine” that contained a heavy dose of mercury. The book was showered with awards and made into a History Channel documentary.
Most thoughtful people would view this as alarming – that a man with severe mental illnesses was elected president. Predictably, the “spin” that Joshua Shen puts on these facts is that Lincoln’s mental illnesses somehow “fueled his greatness.” He was even greater than 150 years of Lincoln cultism has explained, said Shen, for he accomplished what he did despite the fact that he suffered from mental illness!
Having read a few books on Lincoln, Brooks is apparently familiar with many of the excuses of the Lincoln excuse-making industry. He mentions in his article that “Lincoln had very little formal education.” This is a bit of an understatement, since Lincoln’s formal education consisted of less than one year in elementary school. Again, this would seem alarming to some people but not the very model of a modern Lincoln cultist. Brooks repeats one of the canned excuses of the Lincoln cult by poo-pooing the usefulness of education. “Today we pile on years of education,” he sneered, and “cluster our students on campuses with people with similar grades and test scores.” Education Schmeducation.
Lincoln, on the other hand, “spent his formative years in daily contact with an astounding array of characters.” He admittedly didn’t read much (reminiscent of George W. Bush’s boast that he didn’t read anything
), but what he did read he read “intensely,” says Brooks. How he knows how “intensely” Lincoln read is not explained.
Brooks praises Abe for believing in “hard work,” as though Abraham Lincoln was unique among nineteenth-century Americans in that regard. Brooks praises Lincoln’s “moral vision” that included “a government that built canals and railroads and banks . . .” This, however, was a profoundly immoral
vision for it was based in the immoral mercantilist agenda of corporate welfare for canal-building and railroad corporations. By Lincoln’s time there already had been several decades of immense corruption and financial disaster surrounding state government subsidies for such “internal improvements,” including a colossal financial debacle in Illinois that was the work of Illinois state legislator Abraham Lincoln, leader of the Whig Party in the state in the late 1830s.
The original national bank – the Bank of the United States – was so corrupt and economically destabilizing that Congress refused to renew its original charter, and President Andrew Jackson successfully vetoed its refunding. This “Whiggish vision” of political corruption based on economic ignorance was Lincoln’s “north star,” writes David Brooks.
Brooks has apparently read Lincoln’s Melancholy
, for in his Times
article he repeats the standard excuse but with a minor twist: “His experience of depression and suffering gave him a radical self-honesty.” To some, severe depression that gives a person a psychotic split personality is worrisome; to David Brooks, it meant in Lincoln’s case that “He had the double-minded personality that we need in all our leaders.”
Brooks says that Lincoln was “an exceptionally poor hater,” yet he micromanaged the waging of war on Southern civilians for four long years and praised and promoted generals like Sherman who committed these war crimes. He was supposedly “able to see his enemy’s point of view,” yet he refused to meet with Confederate Peace Commissioners before the war to discuss Southern payments for federal property, and endorsed a military policy of unconditional surrender.
Brooks ends his farcical article with the sad declaration that in the next presidential election, “We will not get a Lincoln.” Amen to that.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln;
;Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe
, How Capitalism Saved America
, Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today
. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government
. Reprinted from LewRockwell.com
Dear Patriots: …..and so it begins again, and just as it began before…. As noted herein, courtesy of our Brothers & sisters within The Virginia Flaggers, that which is occurring in South Carolina has set off the Long-Planned Confederate Assault these Marxists have been waiting & thirsting for.
Let me say again, if in y’all haven’t been reading our communiques, that which is happening today is EXACTLY the same as that which was transpiring PRIOR TO 1860. There is NO Difference other than our Southern States are now be run & controlled by Reconstructed Politicians. The Conditions, the Methodology and the Intended & Planned for End-Result is IDENTICAL! There are some in this country who cannot remotely grasp the significance of this because they are living in that ‘Reconstructed AmeriKa’, having succumbed to Indoctrination resulting from an ‘education’ so altered and so re-structured that they think of anyone speaking as I/We do as one who has lost their ‘cookies’. I don’t wish to sound repetitive but once again, WE PREDICTED THIS WOULD COME. Perhaps, even some among YOU thought us to have been ‘over the top’ and too extreme but… we did our Historical Homework and we did it well. When others were making excuses for the Political Actions being undertaken back THEN, that paved the way for today’s Political Actions, we Confederates were ‘Connecting the Dots’ and telling y’all we were being set up. Perhaps NOW, you are at where we were at 23 years ago when, as you, we couldn’t believe what we were ‘unearthing’ in those History books of old that were telling an altogether different story from the ones we too were exposed to in the ‘Public Classroom’? To say it went into the depths of our Souls was an understatement. After all, coming to grips with the Fact that what we ‘ learned’ & what were taught was nothing more than a Grand & Colossal Political Lie, can be very daunting & overwhelming. But God challenges us all in various ways and at various times. He indeed works in ways only known to Him. And today, as it was long ago, we are reminded of what occurs when we leave the ‘Candy Store’ un-attended and to the Whims of a ‘Manager’ we Trusted. It isn’t long before that ‘Manager’ takes from our ‘Candy Store’ to open his own…. leaving ours empty & in ruin. This scenario has been seen and lived 1,000 times over throughout World History and unless the Vigilance to which we were once responsible for is practiced and applied daily, the NET result is Transformation via Usurpation eliminating or altering the original.
Only through a United Confederate Front consisting of ALL CONFEDERATE ORGANIZATIONS can You and We expect any worthwhile leverage to be realized. What should we have learned by now- WE HAVE PLAYED BY THE ‘RULES’ expecting those who seek our demise to play fair & square as well. That is this side of the Biggest DUGH right behind NAIVETY. Those People do NOT play by any set of rules and have NOT played by any set of rules since 1865 and few before 1860. They Play ONLY by their own Known ONLY to them! If you think the People who raped, pillaged and burnt our countryside in a War they deliberately started have altered any of their ways, then you deserve what is happening today. If however, you have come to realize the ‘game’ that is and will continue to be played, then I suggest you join with us and make every effort to help us convene, and as soon as is humanly possible, an Alliance meeting post haste. Have y’all been listing to the various RepublicRATS- THEY ARE ALL JUMPING ON THIS BANDWAGON BECAUSE IT SPEAKS TO THEIR POLITICAL IDEOLOGY as there ain’t a lick of difference between ‘em. For God, Family and the Restoration of the Original Republic of the CONFEDERATION, I am, Respectfully & Confederately, Craig Maus, President, The Confederate Society of America Will YOU join us Now? It’s Now or Never Folks! _____________________________________________ From: email@example.com
] On Behalf Of
Virginia Flagger To:
Va Flaggers: Gov. McAuliffe Wages War to eliminate Virginia SCV Tags https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=11649
The Virginia Flaggers strongly condemn the announcement by Governor Terry McAuliffe that he plans to attempt to eliminate the Sons of Confederate Veterans state sponsored vanity license plate, because it includes an image of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The license plates were made available at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and have been in use with no issues for twelve years. The organization is made up of citizens of the Commonwealth who can trace their lineage directly to an ancestor who was a Veteran of the Confederate Armed Forces. Members work, live, and worship every day alongside men and women of every race, creed, and color, and there have been no reported incidents of anyone being harmed by the license plates, or any disturbances caused by their use.
Sadly, is likely to change almost immediately with Governor McAuliffe’s decision to stir up this controversy, and his insistence on exploiting the tragedy in South Carolina for his own political aspirations, which will serve to divide the Commonwealth, and create strife and dissension where none existed. The governor's pandering follows a wave of similar attacks against the history and heritage of the Confederacy that have cropped up across the South in the wake of the announcement by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to completely reverse her pre-election position, and suddenly support removal of the Battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia from the soldiers’ memorial in Columbia.
Since that announcement, emails, phone calls, and messages of support for the Virginia Flaggers, along with offers of assistance and have been pouring in, and we are in the process of mobilizing to meet what looks like will be a huge demand for flag installations in the coming days, weeks, and months. Across the South, her citizens see these continued attacks as an organized attempt to eradicate our history and heritage, and we are ready to stand and defend the honor of our Veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
We call on the Governor to retract this divisive proposal, end the discriminatory assault against Virginia’s rich Confederate history and heritage, and allow all of the Commonwealth’s citizens the opportunity to honor their ancestors, heritage, and celebrate their culture without prejudice.
By Thomas DiLorenzo
Every couple of years the totalitarian socialist Left in America (a.k.a., the Democratic Party and all of its appendages) pretends to be indignant about the existence of the Confederate flag somewhere. The lapdog cultural Marxist media fall in line, treating the siting of the flag in the same way they would treat the siting of an Ebola victim in a large crowd. Americans are reminded once again by the New York/New England/Ivy League-educated presstitute class that they should hate Southerners and all things Southern. As Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart recently whined in faux horror, Southerners “waged war against the United States” government! Waaaaaaaaah!
The anti-Confederate flag hysteria is only one small part of the Left’s general strategy, however. It is part of their overriding strategy of diverting the public’s attention away from all the grotesque failures of leftist interventionism, from the welfare state to the government takeover of education to the war on drugs and beyond. The neocons who run the Republican Party are usually complicit in all of this.
The welfare state has decimated the black family and is hard at work destroying the white family as well by eliminating the stigma against a man’s abandoning his wife and children with welfare checks (See Charles Murray, Losing Ground
). What does the Confederate flag have to do with this? The welfare state has destroyed the work ethic of millions of Americans. What does the Confederate flag have to do with this? The Fed caused the biggest depression since the Great Depression with its latest boom-and-bust-cycle act. What does the Confederate flag have to do with this?
The rotten inner city government schools have enriched uneducated “teachers” and school bureaucrats but have ruined the lives of untold numbers of black children with fraudulent “education.” What does the Confederate flag have to do with this?
The war on drugs has had a horrific racial effect in that it has caused the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of mostly young black men from the inner cities while creating the reasons for drug-gang violence and all the death that is associated with it. What does the Confederate flag have to do with this?
The minimum wage law has always had a disproportionately harmful effect on black teenage unemployment. What has the Confederate flag have to do with this? High taxes, onerous regulations, and uncontrollable government spending by all levels of government have sucked resources out of the job-creating private sector only to fatten the government bureaucracy, depriving all Americans of job opportunities. What has the Confederate flag have to do with ANY of this? ALL of this was done under the auspices of the U.S. flag
The ideological lynchpin of the cultural Marxists who dominate so much of American politics, the media and the universities is the argument that there is one and only one reason why there still exists a “black underclass” (mostly) in American cities, namely, “white privilege” and “the legacy of slavery.” To cultural Marxists, nothing else matters, or should even be allowed to be discussed. The welfare/warfare state, the war on drugs, the public schools, etc. cannot possibly have had anything but good effects, they say, because they were all undertaken with the best of intentions. It’s all the fault of “white privilege,” say privileged white politicians, privileged white university administrators, and privileged white media talking heads.
The Confederate flag, they claim, is the banner of white privilege, the sole cause of all the problems of the “underclass”; hence, all the extreme torches-and-pitchforks-type behavior over the flag in recent days. The cultural Marxist Left views it all as an assault on “white privilege,” the source of all evil in the world.
Another defining characteristic of the cultural Marxist Left is its hatred of free speech – by those who disagree with it. Free speech should only be enjoyed by the victims of white (heterosexual male) oppression, they say. Allowing white male oppressors to have free speech simply leads to even more “oppression” of the oppressed (which now includes everyone who is not a white heterosexual male). This is why so many university administrators proudly crack down on academic freedom with campus speech codes, tolerance of riotous disruptions of conservative or libertarian campus lecturers, and even the libeling and slandering of such speakers when they are allowed to speak. It makes them popular among the cultural Marxist faculty in the humanities and social sciences, and therefore makes their jobs and lives more pleasant. It also helps to cement into place the cultural Marxist mantra that “white privilege” is the one and only source of all the world’s problems.
I offer as a personal example of this phenomenon the malicious libeling of Professor Walter Block several years ago by one Brian Linnane, the president of Loyola University Maryland, an ugly event that many readers of LewRockwell.com will recall. At my invitation, Professor Block presented a lecture to the undergraduate Adam Smith Club on the evening of their annual dinner. His topic was the economics of discrimination, a very mainstream topic that is addressed in all principles of economics textbooks (I recommend Walter Williams’ new book on the subject, Race and Economics: How Much Does Discrimination Explain?
). Professor Block is known as an iconoclast, but in this instance he presented a very mainstream talk consistent with the ideas of his old graduate school dissertation chairman, the late Gary Becker, author of The Economics of Discrimination
, which I believe was Becker’s own dissertation at the University of Chicago way back when.
Professor Block did his usual fabulous job of explaining how racial or sexual discrimination in the workplace is penalized in a free, competitive market by creating profit opportunities for competitors. For example, if an employer pays a white male employee $50,000/year, and anequally-qualified
black or female employee $25,000 for the same job
for which each employee is capable of producing say, $60,000 in revenue for the employer, the black or female employee is bound to be scooped up by a competitor. The competing business person can offer them say, $35,000 and make $25,000 on the deal ($60,000 in revenue minus $35,000 in salary). Then another competitor may offer $40,000, or $50,000, etc., depending on the intensity of competition. If there is enough competition, the “pay gap” will disappear altogether. This is how free-market competition penalizes racial or sexual discrimination in the workplace and causes it to diminish or disappear. The lecture was met with applause by the students.
But the whole thing was a set-up by the campus cultural Marxists, led by the university president, Brian Linnane. They sent a single black student to the lecture who supposedly complained (not to me, the sponsor of the lecture, but to the gang of cultural Marxist faculty and administrators on campus known to some students as the “social justice crowd”) that Professor Block’s remarks were “insensitive.” That was seven years ago. To this day, no one associated with the Loyola University Maryland administration has ever revealed just what Professor Block said that was “insensitive,” or why their students should be treated like imbecilic little infants whose ears must be protected from ”insensitive” speech such as Gary Becker/University of Chicago-style economics. They even refused to answer the question when a Baltimore Sun
reporter asked them about it.
The libeling occurred when Brian Linnane sent an email to all of the university’s students, faculty, and alumni apologizing for the “insensitivity” of Professor Block’s speech, which he did not personally hear, along with a sanctimonious proclamation of how devoted he was to the cause of anti-discrimination. He clearly wanted his readers to think, incorrectly, that Professor Block must have uttered some kind of racist epithet.
The real reason for the malicious libeling of Walter Block by the Loyola University administration was revealed (to me, at least) by a statement that one of the undergraduate students in the room made at the end of Professor Block’s lecture. “But we
want to talk about the legacy of slavery,” he sheepishly complained, in good politically-correct fashion. Outside of the economics students in the room, who knew better, the other students like this one were thoroughly brainwashed in the cultural Marxist “white privilege” mantra along with the notion that all other discussions of the possible causes of black/white wage differences, unemployment, or anything else, should be censored by any means possible. They are incapable of even engaging in a question-and-answer session with someone like Professor Block, since that would require the use of logical thought. All they had been taught, for the most part, was how to mouth left-wing political platitudes and slogans.
Thus, the purpose of Brian Linnane’s malicious libeling of Walter Block was to send the rest of the campus the message that such non-cultural Marxist talk would no longer be tolerated on “his” campus, and that anyone who attempted it would be smeared as a racist – or worse. Something like this scenario has been played out at numerous other American universities. It is all part and parcel, along with the Confederate flag hysteria, of the cultural Marxist crusade against “white privilege” in their campaign of denial of the grotesque failures of “liberalism.”
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln;
;Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe
, How Capitalism Saved America
, Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today
. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government
. Reprinted from LewRockwell.com
"Mr. Alexander Sir, you may commence the cannonade." General Robert E. Lee. Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Editors Note: I just commented the other day that most of the GOP field was a dustbin of failure. They make the Democrats look intelligent which is not saying much. The two sided coin, Republicans and Democrats. This article casts him in a negative light because he stands up for the Confederate flag which shows Fox is not on our side either. Jindal may be the first man to step up and realize that Confederate lives matter to coin a recent phrase.
Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana Governor and GOP presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal, 44, spoke with Phil Hemmer via satellite on Fox News’ Happening Now
this morning to discuss the ever-growing Confederate flag controversy. However, it wasn’t Jindal’s opinion on what States should do about the flag that had people talking afterwords.
While discussing the historic South Carolina Senate vote to have the flag removed from statehouse grounds, Jindal told Hemmer, “Like the same-sex marriage issue, I believe this should be decided on by the states, not the courts. Let the people’s voices be heard. Like many others who hail from the great Creole state, the Confederate flag is a symbol of my heritage,
and that heritage has nothing to do with racism or hate.”
It would seem Bobby is once again trying to put mileage between himself and his family’s immigrant past. It’s no secret that Jindal, the first Indian-American governor in US history, is uncomfortable in his own skin. For years now
he has tried to distance himself from his Indian roots, and his remarks this morning are just the latest in a long line of bizarre statements and actions.
Take for example Jindal’s recent “limited edition campaign t-shirt” featuring the slogan, “Tanned. Rested. Ready.” Tanned? The Twitterverse immediately started to compare Jindal to Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader in Washington state who came under fire recently for claiming to be black.
Who could forget the governor’s self portrait
discovered by a Louisiana political blogger? Whoever that painting was supposed to resemble is whiter than my Swedish cousin Sigfast.
Mr. Jindal, being the first Indian-American United States governor is something to be proud of.