Saturday, April 23, 2016

Delineating the Political Camps, a Laywoman’s Analysis

This post is number thirty-eight in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican progressive constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868, which resulted in a second election. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, (best read in sequence from oldest to most recent), start with 17 February, 24 March, 16 April, 17 July, 24 July, 18 September, 9 October, 23 October, 5 November, 22 November, 15 December, 29 December 2014, 13 January, 24 January, 9 February, 24 February, 9 March, 31 March, 8 May, 10 June, 30 June, 3 August, 30 August , 13 September, 27 September, 11 October, 25 October 2015, 8 November25 November14 December, 27 December 201518 January1 February20 February,  7 March,  22 March, and 5 April 2016.
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 For the single, most comprehensive background for this post, see my 25 November 2015 entry, President Grant Says...
 
On 13 July 1869, President Grant proclaimed Tuesday, 30 November as the date the constitution would be resubmitted to the people. As the president had suggested in the early spring, the proscriptive clauses and the clause forbidding the loaning of the state’s credit would be submitted to a separate vote. Each voter would be allowed to vote for or against the constitution without the clauses, and each voter would then be allowed to cast a separate ballot for or against the objectionable clauses. But even before the presidential proclamation (everyone knew it was coming) the campaign had commenced.  

To reiterate, there were four political bodies in play, the Radical Republicans, primarily Northern Carpetbaggers; the conservative Republicans, primarily Southern Scalawags; the, official or “regular” Democrats composed of the more progressive/pragmatic Democrats now allied with old-line Whigs, who hated the Republicans even more than they despised Democrats; and the more-or-less impotent original Democrats, the dregs of the old Southern wing of the party long blamed by the old Whigs and now the new Democratic “leaders,” who had climbed up on that bandwagon, for having led the South to disaster. But, and I emphasize this point again, what the new Democratic “leadership” was ready to concede and who they now chose to blame, and what the Democratic rank and file thought of those concessions, those granting them, and this self-aggrandizing redirecting of blame ultimately proved incompatible. The much maligned old Democrats, the Bourbons, would become the Redeemers and, simply put, evolve into the Southern Democratic Party that would, in the short term, gain hegemony over the “solid South.” The Southern Democrats would retain power for almost a century, until the establishment within the Democratic Party conspired to eliminate them from the equation—and that establishment, no longer burdened by any Constitutional principle worth having, morphed into the Democratic Party we have today. To do justice, the Southern Democratic Party was burdened with a self-imposed weight of its own, which had, long before the 1960s, resulted in cracks undermining its foundation, leaving it unable to withstand the liberal onslaught. But in the summer of 1869, all that was yet to be.  

In early June, the conservative Republicans, led by J. L. Wofford, an ex-Confederate and founder of Mississippi’s Republican Party and who Alcorn credited as having led the campaign that defeated the Radical agenda the year before, scheduled a meeting on 23 June between the conservatives and prominent men known to be in sympathy with them. Those “prominent” men would have included the old-line Whigs and enlightened Democrats. What Wofford, who hailed from Tishomingo County in northeast Mississippi and who established a newspaper in Corinth, had created, and this is all strictly my thoughts on the matter, is the hybrid group that James Alcorn had envisioned years earlier and been unable to bring to fruition. Wofford’s success in creating this “hybrid” party could stem from a number of factors: he’d been quickest to form the “Scalawag” party in the state; he applied more discretion on the racial issue; he overtly displayed strict opposition to the proscription clauses. I’m guessing. I do not know the details and can find little on the man. Whatever the specifics, Wofford had managed early on not to isolate himself from potentially influential Southern cohorts. He’d been a war hero who saw more than his share of combat, a distinction that separated him from Alcorn who was thwarted by circumstance (or blackballing) from achieving martial glory. Wofford had also, to his credit, met with disfavor among the “Carpetbag” branch of the Republican Party in Mississippi. I say that because he was not at the constitutional convention in the winter of 1868 and his only role regarding the new constitution was in defeating it—and, in league with the Democrats, he did a darn good job. Wofford had founded the party within the state, then saw his efforts usurped and himself marginalized by Northern Radicals who’d moved in with specific marching orders from the Radical elite in Washington. Recall that the “superior” North had to teach all Southerners, including those with a Republican persuasion, how to be real Americans. The honest truth is the Radical elite did not want Southerners of any sort in an autonomous position of leadership.  To them, the South was a clump of clay to be molded as they deemed fit in order to advance their power and political agenda. The subsequent plunder and malfeasance was their minions’ reward for performing this duty. For a conservative Republican Southerner like Wofford, that Radical vision did not sit well. For that matter, it wouldn’t have set well with Alcorn either, nor, I imagine many conservative Northern Republicans, but the latter weren’t in a position to do anything overtly. The Northern populace had put the Radicals, not them, in power. 

Early in 1869, the Republican Okolona News, demanded General Eggleston, Mississippi’s 1868 Republican nominee for governor, be shelved and the party find another man more agreeable to Mississippians. Put that in tandem with the strong-willed Wofford at the head of the party Alcorn had only dreamed of, and James Lusk Alcorn emerges as a good fit for the Radicals. I believe I’m relatively safe in assuming the Okolona News had already made that determination short of just coming out and saying so. Certainly the Radicals needed someone new to head the ticket. I’m merely suggesting they’d already found him. 

A Radical plan was in motion, had been, in fact, since the Democratic/Conservative victory in July of 1868. Ames’ replacing Gillem was a significant step in ensuring no more fumbles at the polls. (In addition to information provided in my 25 November post, see Adlebert Ames and Preliminary Preparation....)  A year earlier, Alcorn had campaigned for the progressive constitution and Republican ticket; he saw the Radical organization as the state’s best chance for resuming its position in the nation and getting its representation in Congress. Clearly, by the summer of ’69 he viewed the Radicals as his best opportunity to head the state civil government, and his decision to represent his district as part of the  “committee of sixteen” was made with that goal in mind. How many state Radicals he’d swayed as of the fall of 1868 is unknown, but I’ve little doubt Alcorn’s decision to lead the Radicals was thought out before that trip to Washington, and I maintain he had an agenda when he got there—and it wasn’t to convince Congress to vacate the 1868 election results, though he probably did lip service to that plan. He wanted an “in” with the powers that be. Obviously he’d been accepted at the state level, but he needed support from the Radicals’ “big guns” at the national level to carry out his plan.

I have nothing to confirm Radical leaders within the state realized his objective, much less condoned it, but later, during the Alcorn administration, evidence does emerge indicating state Radicals were aware of his machinations and some, at least, were wary of him. But that’s a discussion for a future post. 

It’s been said Alcorn had nowhere to go, but to the Radicals. I would agree, understanding he didn’t want to vie for a leadership position within his party of choice, otherwise he could have teamed up with Wofford’s group where, politically, he belonged. That, of course, assumes he’d have even been welcomed. But recall, at the time the “committee of sixteen” left for Washington, the Conservatives had followed, bringing with them an agenda of their own. The Wofford group was talking to President Grant at the same time Alcorn’s was wheeling and dealing with Congressional leaders. More on the Wofford group’s plan in a later post.  

The Republican parties’ platforms (that’s plural), next time, and thanks for reading. 

Charlsie

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reading, Writing, and Teaching Southern History

Other Posts in my Southern History Series:
Ilario Pantano’s Grand Theft History


In Grand Theft History, Ilario Pantano addresses the culture war between progressives and conservatives for control of the Republic as well as the Marxists historians who are determined to dismantle the America of our Founders in support of the former. 

I maintain that the Founders’ Republic has been gone for a century and a half, no longer visible or viable with the desecration of Federalism that came with the so-called “ratification” of the 14th and 15th Amendments whereby the central government usurped civil rights and suffrage onto itself, both the sole domain of sovereign states; the 16th amendment which fed and continues to feed the insatiable monster the central government has become today; and the 17th amendment, by which the people of the states sold out state rights in return for pure democracy, thus damaging Federalism every bit as much as did the 14th and 15th amendments.  

In the fall elections of 1866, the people of the victorious North rejected our Founder’s Republic as surely as they’d rejected Southern rights. What was left has been whittled away at ever since. Trying to reconstitute our Founder’s Republic given what happened during the Civil War and Reconstruction is, in my mind, delusional. It’s gone, and I don’t think we’ll see its like again. What made us exceptional was lost, as odd as it may seem to some of you, with the Confederacy. What replaced it was the post-Civil War (and certainly post-founding) narrative on the virtues of civil rights and democracy, and we’ve been traveling that common path of democracies since, and we will meet their common fate, implosion under the social excesses and economic weight of the mob or empire under a dictator. We could hope for “imperial,” great, but not exceptional. Some folks, in fact, believe we are already there. What I haven’t lost is my unwavering conviction that the South was right, and the loss of our Founders’ Republic correlates directly to the unwarranted war waged against her. I do not want the basis for that belief lost, too, particularly to future Southerners. 

In his book, Pantano defines grand theft history as the “improper and intentional omission or distortion of historical fact to the significant detriment of one or more parties.” He begins his argument by establishing that Southerners had something of value that was taken away from them, that being their rightful place in American history by the omission and misstatement of historical facts. He further argues that these omissions and misstatements were/are intentional. Well, I maintain that the South had plenty of value taken from her long before now, but I won’t haggle over the point. This latest slight simply heaps insult on top of injury, but I'm digressing a bit...sorta.

If the reader (jury) agrees with Pantano’s argument, the miscreants are condemned to clean up their act, do their duty, and report the historical record accurately. 

It’s less that I disagree with Pantano on this last point than I believe it is a requirement that cannot and would not be enforced. Who would enforce it? The reader?  

I don’t think so. The powers that be are complicit with liberal historians’ marginalization of Southern history. In the minds of those geared to this agenda, they are doing their duty by twisting the history. Revisionism is as old as history itself.  

No, it’s time for partisan action. We Southerners need to be writing our own history. Of course, a quick perusal of the bibliography Pantano published with Grand Theft shows that we already are and always have been. But that doesn’t change the fact that the academic gatekeepers have left no room in academia for anything but negative reflection of the South. What we Southerners need to do is quit buying into it and start reading (and writing and teaching) our own history books and, for the love of Saint Peter, stop apologizing for something that was normal, accepted, and for which everyone in this nation and most of the world was complicit in, including black folk, and had been millennia before the white man ever set foot on this continent. You take away the bad things we all have done and we wouldn’t have survived as a people on this continent, much less built a nation, not to mention we, as a species, would still be living in caves—and still, no doubt, being bad to one another. Why the devil should the South carry the weight of guilt for all history—oh yeah, that’s right, I get it! Our refusal to reject the full promise of our Founder’s Republic (federalism/decentralization) renders us unrepentant on the issue of slavery—because that was the one and only issue, right? Bullshit. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Classic. Except we’re not suppose to note the baby. It’s the dirty bathwater the left has us focused on. But it’s not about the bathwater. It’s about the baby, and it always has been.

The left believes that the only way to achieve true freedom, as they perceive it to be, is by erasing everything the Republic once stood for and pretending it never was. On top of the ruins it will build its brave new Utopian world where civil rights, equality, and freedom for all is defined and enforced by a “benign” central government (the states relegated to satellites, equally benign, of course).

Ain’t it funny how that Utopian monster, no matter how often it defeats itself with its own stupidity, never ceases to raise its ugly head? Granted its appearance is periodic. I attribute that phenomenon to excess prosperity and esoteric minds, freed from the drudgery of honest labor (thanks to excess prosperity), focused on getting even more of other people’s money to fund/control the Utopian agenda. Ha! If they read more history books, they’d know it never works—oh, darn it, I forgot! That won’t work if they read the revised versions.
 
More—on the virtues of the South, that is—next time and thanks for reading, 

Charlsie

 

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Alcorn Readies His Campaign to Run for Governor on the Radical Ticket

This post is number thirty-seven in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican progressive constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. As of my last post the issue of Mississippi’s returning to the Union had been returned, euphemistically speaking, to the people of Mississippi. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, (best read in sequence from oldest to most recent), start with 17 February, 24 March, 16 April, 17 July, 24 July, 18 September, 9 October, 23 October, 5 November, 22 November, 15 December, 29 December 2014, 13 January, 24 January, 9 February, 24 February, 9 March, 31 March, 8 May, 10 June, 30 June, 3 August, 30 August , 13 September, 27 September, 11 October, 25 October 2015, 8 November25 November14 December, 27 December 201518 January1 February20 February,  7 March  and 22 March 2016.

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Despite Congress’ refusal to void Mississippi’s July 1868 election results and declare the Republican ticket elected, its members were hard at work behind the scenes, setting the stage for a Republican victory in the state. There was, at the national level, as well as within the state, the same power struggle on-going between the regular Republicans (Radicals) and the more conservative members of the party. This struggle, as I’ve previously noted, is important for understanding what happened in Mississippi and Virginia during this time and what happened with/to the in-coming president. Ulysses S. Grant had appeared, at the outset, sympathetic to the conservatives in both states. His Radical handlers had yet to “get a handle on him.” They would tighten the leash shortly. 

Just as important to understanding the internal politics of the era is an appreciation for what was at stake. The Radicals needed control of the South in order to counter any threat to its agenda that might emerge from those Northern states paying attention to what was going on. The Radicals were altering the Founders’ Republic into a pure democracy, and in 1869 the next item on their agenda was the suffrage, a right belonging to sovereign states, and one ultimately usurped by the Federal government with the then un-ratified Fifteenth Amendment. The Radicals also looked at the Fifteenth Amendment as a means of maintaining their power into perpetuity. Controlling the South was key. 

So, whatever wheeling and dealing went on between the national leaders of the Republican Party and the “committee of sixteen” during the latter’s stay in Washington in the winter of 1868-1869, it was all framed to ensure a Republican victory in Mississippi. The linchpin for the Radical plan proved to be James Lusk Alcorn. He had, no doubt, been blessed to carry the torch. Eggleston, the carpetbag nominee who had led the ticket to defeat in the summer of 1868, was out. This, of course, was all going on before “Grant’s” decision to resubmit the new progressive constitution to the people separate from the obnoxious proscription clauses. Shoot, this was underway before Grant was even inaugurated, but things were jelling. 

Back at Friar’s Point, Mississippi (Alcorn’s home), the presses of a new paper, The Weekly Delta, started to roll on 9 February 1869. The editor was Robert J. Alcorn, James’ cousin who represented Yalobusha County at the Reconstruction constitutional convention during the winter of 1868. The paper’s original publisher was F. S. Belcher. In March, Belcher sold his interest to a chancery clerk of Coahoma County, George R. Alcorn, another of James’ cousins. That same month, James resigned from his law firm, Alcorn, Stricklin, and Harmon. The Weekly Delta claimed to be independent, but supported both the national Republican Party and Alcorn. It defended both and was unequivocally a Republican paper. 

Alcorn had always been an impressive man in Mississippi and his tossing his hat in with the Radicals was a matter of no small concern to the state’s Democrats. Being a “native son,” so to speak, he posed a subtle threat unlike that of the overtly distasteful Yankee interloper Eggleston, who had been adamantly in favor of the proscription clauses as opposed to Alcorn who had opposed them, but still campaigned for the constitution in the summer of 1868, stating those clauses could be removed later.  

On 2 June 1869, The Weekly Delta expressed hope that James Lusk Alcorn would run for governor on the Republican ticket. Ah, from die-hard Unionist to reluctant secessionist, who at the secession convention in 1861 brought the house down with, “Mr. President, the die is cast; the Rubicon is crossed; I follow the army that goes to Rome; I vote for the ordinance”, now to leadership of the state’s contingent of the foulest group of men who have ever sank their talons into the flesh of this nation. Such are the misfortunes of war and the expedient nature of political principle. 

There were four political entities that played a role in the upcoming events in Mississippi:  

The Radical Republicans or carpetbaggers, which I maintain Alcorn was not, either by place of origin or in principle, but with whom he’d made his bed;  

the conservative Republicans, the scalawags or native Mississippians, where Alcorn properly belonged;  

the more progressive Democrats, the official party, who were trying to figure out where they belonged—turns out they didn’t;  

and the old-line Democrats, known to history as the Bourbons, who at the time didn’t have a place, but waited in the wings and remained true to the basic principles of the old Democratic Party in the South.  

I will elaborate on each during the course of this series. Thanks for reading,

Charlsie

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ilario Pantano’s Grand Theft History and Skewing the South’s Role

I have a friend, a fellow indie writer, who within the last couple of years has written an award-winning contemporary romance set in Mississippi. The heroine of the story is a history teacher at a local high school who can trace her Southern roots back through a Confederate ancestor, a Revolutionary War hero, and farther still—all the way back to the Mayflower 

It is such innocuous slights to the South that fueled my resolve a number of years ago to concentrate my reading on Southern history. I don’t mean writings produced over the last fifty years, a proliferation of anti-Southern bias designed, at its most benign, to marginalize the South’s role in this nation to the malicious portrayal of Southerners as violent, murderous opponents to liberty, freedom, and civil rights, supposedly making the South upside down and backwards to what this nation is supposed to stand for. Such portrayal serves a liberal agenda that does, in fact, reject the Founder’s Republic.  

A child of the sixties, during which I witnessed the purposeful destruction of the Southern wing of the Democratic Party, I understand the agenda driving revisionist history. What is inexplicable to me is why so many tax-paying Americans, who more and more find themselves under the thumb of government, fail to make the correlation between the skewing of that history and what is happening to this nation.  

Let’s return to the ancestry of my friend’s Southern heroine that introduced this post. Though not impossible, the ancestral migration cited is improbable. More significantly, when one has the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, or more convincingly, the great migration to Jamestown in 1609-1610 to draw from, why establish the woman’s historical bona fides via New England? Jamestown predates the Pilgrims by a decade. 

I do not believe the author’s oversight was intentional, rather an honest belief that the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth was the iconic moment in colonizing what would become the United States. Maybe it’s the Thanksgiving thing—the turkeys and pumpkin pies and the brief “kumbaya” interlude with the friendly natives. I’ll give the Pilgrims that—I like Thanksgiving, too—but as for being the forefathers of fine Southern lineage, no.  

Imagine my pleasure, then, when on one of my visits to Barnes and Noble, a book bearing the uniformed chest and strong hands of a Revolutionary War soldier cradling his long rifle jumped off the shelf at me: Ilario Pantano’s Grand Theft History. Admittedly, it’s the kind of cover that catches my eye and a quick perusal of the subtitle told me the volume was one after my own heart. Pantano is himself a transplanted Southerner and former U.S. Marine with an understanding of military history, an interest in research, and a talent for writing.  

Grand Theft’s theme deals with the steady disappearance of the South’s role in the history of this nation. He supports his argument by taking a slice of that history, the Revolutionary War, in which the South’s role proved crucial, and shows how that participation has been buried. He presents his argument in the form of a criminal trial in which evidence is presented to a jury to support a case of dereliction on the part of modern historians to give the South its due for the victories in the Carolinas in 1780 and 1781, which led to Cornwallis’ retreat to and subsequent surrender at Yorktown. In school, I learned about Lexington and Concord, the Declaration, Trenton, Saratoga, and Benedict Arnold, and, of course, I knew Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown bringing it all to an end. I knew there was fighting in the South, but nothing I learned emphasized the strategic importance of the Southern theatre. As I grew into an adult, I learned that the war was particularly vicious in the South, while ancillary reading about events to the north left me with the feeling that there was too much pragmatic intercourse going on between the antagonists. Today, I wonder if the British wouldn’t have been better off if they’d dealt with their Southern colonists with equally kid gloves. But then, perhaps, their Southern colonists simply wouldn’t have it. 

Have you ever asked yourself how Cornwallis managed to get himself surrounded in Yorktown, Virginia or what he was doing there to begin with? Personally, I can’t recall ever studying that in school, but I’m no spring chicken and “school” was a long time ago. To make a long story short, for those who don’t know, he was there because he’d hauled his ass out of the Carolinas before he’d lost his entire army. The British had, since his victorious landing at Charleston in the late spring of 1780, met with several resounding defeats at the hands of some very pissed off frontiersman—those being, to hit some of the  highpoints, Huck’s Crossing, King’s Mountain, Cowpens, but there were more—all crowned by Cornwallis’ Pyrrhic victory at Guilford Courthouse. Not only was Guilford costly, the Patriots got away to boot. That’s when Cornwallis decided it was time to get out of the Carolinas. Things were a little more stable in Virginia, so that’s where he headed. He holed up in Yorktown on the coast and waited for General Clinton, cozy in New York, to come move him to safety. Clinton promised to come, but dawdled, and the Americans and French beat him to Cornwallis. Pacification of the South had failed and renewed hope swelled the Patriot ranks stalemated to the north. In a blink it was over (at least according to the history books) and the final decisive victories had been won by hard fighting Southerners who were fed up being violated by British regulars, irregulars, and colonial loyalists recruited not only amongst their neighbors in the South, but in New England.  

But you know something I learned specifically from Pantano’s book? On February 27, 1776, Carolina patriots defeated a much larger force of Carolina loyalists at a place called Moores Creek Bridge in North Carolina. The loyalists were on their way to augment British naval forces for the planned assault on Charleston in June of that same year. Turns out they really needed those ground forces, because a few months later the British naval bombardment of Sullivan’s Island, defending Charleston Harbor, failed. The British ships took a licking and sailed away, delaying the main offensive against the Southern colonies four years. That failure to bring the Southern colonies to heel would ultimately cost Britain the war. 

In 1781 Mother England knew where the final gambit had been played...and lost. As cited above, she’d already prudently postponed a second invasion of an area (South Carolina) where she’d already been thwarted once. In addition to unfriendly colonists, there was the environment which was hostile to conventional armies. Okay, it was hostile to just about everybody, but the patriots there had struggled long and hard to build what they had. They had adjusted to not only the environment but the native inhabitants born and bred in that briar patch; they had, themselves, become indigenous. Now, with the north at a stalemate and the promise of Southern loyalists (also indigenous, which is what made the war there so nasty) who would rally to the British cause, she decided the time was ripe to subdue what remained of the rebels. At the time, a great deal was made by Mother England’s intent to invade the South. Immediately after, a great deal was made of her decision to have done so and who was to blame for the failure. Today that has fallen out of the mainstream histories. Oh, books are written by Southerners, but the television documentaries and the academic histories, and the curriculum taught in the prestigious, left-leaning universities, which for some reason I am unable to fathom, have been dubbed the torch-bearers of American history, gloss over the Southern role. These people have the market, leaving no room for the Southern presentation, something Pantano points out along with a detailed list and description of the miscreants. It’s not that the South’s role was more important, but certainly it was as important and the strategic picture for ultimate victory needs to be studied overall, from start to finish. There is plenty of room for the recognition of all. Two-hundred and thirty-six plus years ago we all worked together..., but we were a different nation then. 

I am a Southerner. This theme of promoting the South’s role in this nation is dear to me. I’ll never be an academic and I’m never going to make a movie or a television documentary, but I do intend to fight back against the forces undermining not only the South, but our Founders as well.
 
More next time and thanks for reading. 

Charlsie

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Getting Your Book Covers to Look Right on Your Facebook Business Page

This post is primarily for those do-it-yourself authors out there, who, are stymied when trying to display your book covers on Facebook. I was, too. Facebook Help offered no guidance that I could find, nor did my efforts to “google”  the problem prove useful. Maybe after visits to a score of forums or so, I’d have come up with something on Google, but I fear the search would have proved daunting. I have figured out a way though and thought I’d share it with those of you who haven’t yet.  For those of you who have figured out a way to fix the problem, this post probably won’t interest you much. However, if you know a still better/simpler way, or if you’ve conquered the problem using a different graphic design software other than Paint Shop Pro, which I use, and you’d like to share your know-how, feel free to post in the comments section below. 

Now, for Charlsie’s method: 

The graphic box for uploading pictures to Facebook is a 180 pixel square. That means only the top portion of a book cover displays when the graphic is uploaded. To solve the problem, a book cover needs to display at 180X180. Since most covers are rectangular, mere resizing results in a distorted graphic. 

As stated above, the graphic design software I use is PaintShop Pro 8, but in theory, this method should work for any graphic design program. 

First, I created a graphic box 180X180. Then I colored that box with a background that blends nicely with my cover. Next I resized my front cover graphic to 180 pixels high, locked aspect ratio, which keeps the width in the same ratio as the height. My books are 6X9, so my finished graphic was 180X119 (or 120 to round it off nicely with no obvious distortion). I then selected the new little graphic, copied it, then selected my colored box, and pasted the image. The entire cover appears inside the box, framed on either side by a color complimentary to the cover. I saved the image, then uploaded it to my Facebook business page. 

Hope this helps some of you, 

Charlsie

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Adelbert Ames and Preliminary Preparation for Choosing a New Constitution and a New Government for Mississippi, Sans Mistakes

This post is number thirty-six in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican progressive constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. As of my last post the issue of Mississippi’s returning to the Union had been returned, euphemistically speaking, to the people of Mississippi. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, (best read in sequence from oldest to most recent), start with 17 February, 24 March, 16 April, 17 July, 24 July, 18 September, 9 October, 23 October, 5 November, 22 November, 15 December, 29 December 2014, 13 January, 24 January, 9 February, 24 February, 9 March, 31 March, 8 May, 10 June, 30 June, 3 August, 30 August , 13 September, 27 September, 11 October, 25 October 2015, 8 November25 November14 December, 27 December 201518 January1 February20 February,  and 7 March 2016.
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The title of this post begs the question what mistakes? 

It wasn’t what the Republicans had done since the late fall of 1867, but what they’d failed to do. Obviously, too many Mississippi taxpayers, (those would be the one’s still believing in their Founders and the Republic those men forged), had managed to vote. As a result, they’d defeated the progressive constitution in which they’d played no part in framing, indeed had wanted no part in framing, as well as the Republican ticket made up of interlopers who did not represent them. They’d voted to keep what they had on all fronts and if that meant continued martial law, so be it. Much has rightfully been made of the Radical’s proscription clauses, denying the vote of the Confederates into perpetuity. In return for a separate vote on those obnoxious clauses, the democratic leadership apparently agreed to a second vote on the equally obnoxious constitution—a risky proposition because it would be a truly rigged vote next time around—tilted in favor of the Radicals, and there is no way they couldn’t have known it.  

President Ulysses S. Grant assumed the presidency on 4 March 1869. Andrew Johnson, who had supported General Gillem’s efforts to keep the Radical Republicans in Mississippi functioning within the framework of the Reconstruction Acts (notorious in their own right), was out. So, therefore, was Gillem, who—and we might should consider he was happy to go—was reportedly relieved because he refused to serve the political ends of the Republican party. Gillem was reassigned to California and the reigns of the Fourth Military District passed to the man General McDowell, during his interim assignment  as District Commander in the June 1868, had made provisional governor upon removing the duly-elected Humphreys from office. A native of Maine, Ames was 33 years old when McDowell made him provisional governor in the summer of 1868. An 1861 graduate of West Point, he won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the war and earned the rank of brevet-general in the United States Army. He had never held a civil office. He was Benjamin Butler’s son-in-law and a prudish New Englander who kept the Sabbath and deemed himself a champion of Freedmen’s rights—and apparently it didn’t matter who else’s rights got in the way. There’s only one explanation, in my opinion, for that kind of noble attitude and it’s not self-sacrificing. Ames quickly conformed to the realization of what the Freedmen (or the Freedmen’s votes) could do for him. But that is yet to be.

Ames assumed command of the Fourth Military District in March 1869. Though dismayed by the rolling of General Gillem, the people of Mississippi weren’t overly concerned with the assignment of Ames as district commander. The removal of Humphreys and his family from the governor’s mansion early in the summer aside, Ames’ governorship hadn’t given cause for alarm (but Gillem was there). Still the provisional governor when he assumed command of the Fourth Military District, Ames moved the district headquarters from Vicksburg to Jackson, affording him easy access to both offices. Given he was both district commander and provisional governor, there were few limitations on his power, and years later, following the revolt that sent him scampering out of the state, Ames admitted such to George Boutwell during the Boutwell hearings in 1876. He stated in the hearings that his power as military governor gave him supremacy in Mississippi and he allowed no law (including a Federal one) to stand in his way when he felt that it was a hindrance to the execution of his policy. He said it, which tells me he believed it, and perceived no wrong. The man was, in my humble opinion, a self-righteous ass. His civil control included rights of persons and property; tax assessment, collection, and disbursement; and he apportioned representation in the legislature. Keep in mind that during the interim he was provisional governor and commander of the Fourth Military District Mississippi had no legislature, and he alone decided how the state’s treasury was spent.

Most importantly for the purposes of this post, he controlled the elections through the appointment of registrars, judges, and inspectors and by prescribing the time, place, and manner of holding the elections—all the things the Committee of Five had granted themselves during the Black and Tan Constitutional Convention and which General Gillem had repeatedly thwarted. With Gillem gone and Ames in, the Committee of Five had gotten what it wanted—so, you see, the Committee of Sixteen had been quite successful, behind the scenes, during its sojourn to Washington that past winter. Not only that, but on February 16, 1869, just a few weeks before Grant’s inauguration, Congress had issued a joint resolution declaring all persons who couldn’t take the oath of 2 July 1862 (Iron-clad oath) were to be removed from civil office in Mississippi and the vacancies filled by loyal citizens chosen by the district commander. Now, long before this (the 16 February mandate was just a reiteration of an earlier requirement in the first Reconstruction Act of 1867), Gillem had gone on record stating there were not enough qualified men in the state to fill those positions, and he’d left the incumbents in. As of March 26, 1869, Ames started making assignments to civil positions throughout the state. He had the same problem Gillem had finding qualified people to assume the positions, but unlike Gillem, he didn’t let that slow him down. He removed nearly all the state officers and hundreds of county and local officers. Ames appointed 60 new sheriffs, 172 circuit and probate judges, 3 criminal judges, 16 prosecuting attorneys, 70 county treasurers, 120 circuit and probate clerks, 60 county assessors, 50 mayors, 220 aldermen, 385 justices of the peace, 165 constables, 370 members to various boards of police (that’s the county supervisors, y’all)...and on and on. You get my drift. And here’s a biggy—more than 300 election registrars.

As regards the individuals who Ames put into the civil positions, James Garner in Reconstruction in Mississippi gives him the benefit of the doubt, quoting Ames as admitting he probably did take some “bad advice.” Garner actually met Ames in the course of writing his book on Reconstruction. Ames told Garner he did the best he could and filled the positions with freedmen (most illiterate) and strangers from the North. Of the few competent men put in county positions, some had never even stepped foot in the county prior and none were accepted by the locals. This had everything to do with a firm belief in “home rule.” He could have always done what Gillem had done—ignored Congress and left qualified men in their positions—after all, Mr. Arrogance wasn’t going to let anything hinder the execution of his policy.

Of the 25 appointees who became the most prominent Republican politicians in the state, not one had ever held prior public office. Eight were Negro and all but four of the whites were Northerners. One Northerner would become governor, one a U.S. Senator, one lieutenant governor, two justices of the supreme court, and two representatives to Congress. No, what Ames did and what Congress did was in pursuit of their own goals. The good of Mississippi, her taxpayers, or even her non-taxpayers didn’t matter. Ames’ actions increased animosity within the state, laid a corrupt and extravagant government on an already downtrodden people, participated in and fomented fraudulent elections, and ultimately instigated violence and revolution.  

The Republican Pilot admitted that Ames had probably erred in a number of his assignments, but he’d rectify them in time; however, this conflicted with Ames’ readiness to interfere in civil matters and protect the criminal activities of those he put in office. Case in point being that of the probate judge and sheriff in Rankin County who were convicted of official crimes and sent to jail. The governor sent troops to forcibly open the jail, remove the prisoners, escort them under guard to the courthouse, open court, then gave them the opportunity to depart the state, which they did in short order. My assessment of Ames’ reasoning: 

Oh, my Northern friends, I set you up and you blew it. Well, now, let me get you out of here before things get worse.  

I do wonder if what they stole was ever recovered or they managed to get out with it. This particular case had the added feature of the case of Professor Highgate, a Negro teacher in Madison County and an ex-Union soldier who dared fault the governor in his actions down in Rankin County. This caused him to be arrested and made to stand on a barrel, gagged, with hands tied behind his back from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (There were no New England stocks in Mississippi). There’s lots more on the petty and arbitrary actions Ames took against the citizens of Mississippi—or wherever they came from—who dared to criticize him or the Republican Party. The military commanders of the posts at Jackson, Vicksburg, Corinth, Natchez, Lauderdale (County), and Grenada were forbidden by Ames to obey any writ of habeas corpus issued by a “Federal” court for release of prisoners in their custody [Ha, he could appoint the state and local judges, but he couldn’t get his own men in those Federal positions. That must have been particularly galling for the petty autocrat.] The Jackson Clarion stated the reason for this order was to prevent testing legality of arbitrary arrests by military authorities. The Clarion was a Democratic paper, but let’s face it, there had to be a reason, and I can’t see it being a good one, for such an order being given to his commanders protecting Ames’ sole right to suspend habeas corpus.  

He apparently did stay out of criminal court unless Freedmen/Northerners were involved, as victim or accused. Here I’d like to share a case put forward by Judge Simrall regarding these military tribunals under the Reconstruction Acts and the issuing of arbitrary punishments not in accordance with state law. The incident dealt with the beating up of a school teacher at a Negro school. It’s not clear if the teacher was black or white. He was definitely male. The bullies apparently wanted the password to the local Loyal League and roughed up the individual pretty good. Under state law, this was a misdemeanor, but under the military tribunal, they were tried for a “conspiracy to commit murder” and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. Judge Simrall took it to the U.S. district judge arguing that the Reconstruction Acts did not suspend state law and the military tribunals were constituted for those cases involving Freedmen and Northerners where it was perceived they would not receive a fair trial. This arbitrarily accusing the criminals of conspiracy to commit murder with an equally arbitrary punishment was in violation of the Reconstruction Acts. The Federal judge agreed and from that point on the military tribunals ensured justice in accordance with Mississippi law. 

Hmmm...well, the folks were learning how bad martial law really could be.

Now, the deck stacked in his favor, Alcorn prepares to run for governor. Next time and thanks for reading,
 
Charlsie

 

 

Monday, March 7, 2016

So, what was that effort in July 1868 really for?

This post is number thirty-five in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican “reconstruction” constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, (best read in sequence from oldest to most recent), start with 17 February, 24 March, 16 April, 17 July, 24 July, 18 September, 9 October, 23 October, 5 November, 22 November, 15 December, 29 December 2014, 13 January, 24 January, 9 February, 24 February, 9 March, 31 March, 8 May, 10 June, 30 June, 3 August, 30 August , 13 September, 27 September, 11 October, 25 October 2015, 8 November25 November14 December, 27 December 201518 January1 February, and 20 February 2016.
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Here I wrap up the known workings, with some opinions regarding the “unknown” workings, in Washington that would lead to the subsequent ratification of the progressive, Republican Constitution already rejected by the Mississippi taxpayer in tandem with the relatively brief, but calamitous period of Radical Republican rule in Mississippi.

Justification for the Butler Bill having been effectively rebuked by James Beck of Kentucky (see my 20 February post), John F. Farnsworth, a representative from Illinois and member of the Reconstruction Committee, offered that the commanding general should resubmit the constitution to a vote with the objectionable clauses (proscription of Confederates) separate and if said clauses were defeated, then remove them from the constitution. Halbert Paine of Wisconsin offered another change to the bill—that being to first offer the constitution as a whole, then with the obnoxious clauses removed. This revised version passed 125-25 and Butler’s bill was sent to the Senate.
 
Mr. Farnsworth’s version also suggested that judges and chancellors at the voting booths should be elected by the people. (Though I do appreciate the sentiment, wouldn’t that mean another election before the election—neither of which the state could afford?) And a bigger question is why? The people of Mississippi had already rejected the constitution and everyone knew the proscription clauses were one of the primary reasons. This was not a secret.  

[Want my very opinionated opinion? Regardless, I’ll share it. The Radicals had to have another election to get the lion’s share of that awful progressive constitution passed and in force and the state back in the Union under Republican control. This took priority over their minions’ extreme proscription clauses, which were more important to the minions at the state level than the Radicals at the national level, the latter satisfied with the tyranny inherent in the Fourteenth Amendment. Mississippi under martial law, which the people had already said they preferred to that progressive constitution, was not an option for the Radicals—nor apparently for the Democratic leadership/conservative Republicans, who perceived some value in being back in the Union and under the “protection of the Constitution.” Yeah, I don’t know what the Democrats were basing that on, because most everything worth protecting had already been lost, and what wasn’t they were willing to sacrifice in return for the elimination of those proscriptive clauses and—this is a very important and—bringing Mississippi back into the Union—hence, agreeing to another election.

Let me emphasize, these Democrats were the men who had seized the reigns of the Democratic Party in the wake of defeat—the bulk of the old leadership impotent. Though many names were not new, those now in power were those who were willing to make some effort to adjust to the new order. They did not necessarily appreciate the stubborn will of the people they thought they represented and, as time progressed, proved a little too accepting of the “new order” for their constituents’ tastes. But as of the spring of 1869, the impact of their acquiescence has yet to be recognized by the majority outside the old leadership. On the other side, the Radicals in Washington, eager for a second go at ratification and a Republican victory in Mississippi, cast their minions in theater under the carriage wheels on the proscription issue. But here are two important points worth noting. Though the powers that be appear to have sold out the Radicals in Mississippi on the proscription clauses and refused to support them in their November 1868 goon-like declaration that the progressive constitution had been ratified and the Republican ticket elected, the national Republican leadership was hard at work securing both. They got rid of the old commander of the Fourth Military District, General Gillem, who repeatedly thwarted the schemes proposed by the Radicals in Mississippi under the Reconstruction Acts, and replaced him with Ben Butler's son-in-law, Adelbert Ames. Then Congress called for the vacating of all civil positions in the state (recall this was one of the Mississippi Republican’s biggest demands—they wanted those govenment jobs and all the blessings of malfeasance that came with them).

As the district military commander (not to mention he was still the provisional governor at that time), Ames had full authority to choose the registrars for the upcoming election, which would once again decide the fate of the Republican ticket and the already rejected constitution. In other words, Mississippi’s taxpayers (many of whom subsequently would not be allowed to vote) would be forced to hold election after election until the Radical Congress in Washington got the results it wanted, and James Lusk Alcorn was part of the committee of sixteen orchestrating all this with Congress behind the scenes. The objective was to nullify the Democratic victory in July 1868—under seemingly legal conditions.  The failure of the national Repubican leadership to honor the Mississippi Radicals in their November 1868 delaration of victory was mere lip service. Such tyranny needed to be handled with a bit more finesse (covertly)—especially in the face of so much wrong doing exposed by James Beck. As will be seen, the Radicals achieved it.] 

In the Senate, Oliver Hazard Perry Throck Morton, tyrannical ex-war governor from Indiana who emulated Lincoln in his abuse of executive authority—in his case against Indiana’s Democratic legislature—and blessed Indiana with a war it should have never fought—tied the readmission of the then three remaining, unreconstructed states (Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi) to their ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. Lyman Trumbull, senator from Illinois and chairman of the senate judiciary committee, argued the requirement was a breech of faith at this point. Trumbull was, in my opinion, a breech of faith in and of himself, but I really don’t see what difference it would have made. Perhaps there was a fear at this time that the moderate Republicans (nominally supported by the Democrats), vice the “regular” Republicans (Radicals) would win the day. Did Morton think the nation might fail to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment as suggested by Butler’s earlier warning about failure to pass the Fifteenth Amendment in conjunction with the loss of six Northern states? Maybe so. The Democrats might be leaning toward the more conservative candidates as a place to cast their ballots, but the only way for the Democrats to thwart the state’s ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment would be to win the election, which, of course, they’d already done, effectively torpedoing the Radicals’ hopes for the Fifteenth Amendment, but leaving Mississippi outside the Union, problematic for the conservative Republicans and Democratic leadership in Mississippi (and the South). But this “spirit of capitulation/acceptance” will raise its ugly head again in future posts. No matter, the requirement regarding ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment passed the Senate 30-20.  

Eventually, the revised Butler bill, modeled on the amended Farnsworth substitute, with the Fifteenth Amendment tacked on, authorized President Grant to submit the proposed reconstruction constitutions for Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas to their people and at the same time submit for separate vote such provisions as he might choose (again, that refers to the proscription clauses in Mississippi and Virginia). An adjunct to the revised Butler bill was that the commanding general was empowered to suspend all laws that he might deem unjust and oppressive—with the President’s concurrence. In the case of Mississippi, that is a reference to the poll tax established in support of the indigent and other debt collection laws, which the Republicans deemed unjust. Hmmm, wonder if Ames gave any thought to reviewing the convention’s taxation scheme promulgated to pay for the Black and Tan Convention?

Whatever. Mississippi’s fate was now, nominally, in the hands of her people and the President, and the Fourth Military District in the hands of Adelbert Ames. I’ll begin my next post with an overview of Ames’ military rule, much of which—again I’m forcing my unsolicited opinion on you to accept or reject as you will—was carried out to ensure a Republican victory in Mississippi the second time around, a victory which the Radicals further believed would prove more palatable to the people by having Mississippi’s own James Lusk Alcorn on the ticket for governor.

Thanks for reading,

Charlsie