Wednesday, September 12, 2018

State Rights was About Federalism, not Slavery

I just finished reading From Founding Fathers to Fire-Eaters by James Rutledge Roesch. It’s a new book (2018) on an old subject, but it’s an excellent, entertaining, and both an enjoyable and easy read considering the complexity of the subject and the brilliant minds of the Southern political theorists whose works Mr. Roesch has compiled and edited into a succinct outline of the state rights doctrine of the Old South. [Take that in conjunction with Alcorn’s comment in his 1870 inaugural speech about how Southerners should quit political theorizing and jump in and wallow in the trough with the Yankees.]

The doctrine did not begin with the abolitionists or the Missouri Compromise or even the Constitutional Convention, and it was never about slavery. As Mr. Roesch shows to any reasonably intelligent person with only a modicum of knowledge regarding this nation’s history, the doctrine was there at the beginning, inherent in the colonial charters, the oldest of which was Virginia’s. I highly recommend anyone interested in truth regarding the state rights doctrine vis-a-vis the post-republic egalitarian/centralization doctrine get the book, devour it, and share it.

The nationalists (centralizers) have been part of our government from the start, much like the serpent was integral to the Garden of Eden. They were the Tories who reluctantly joined the Patriot cause after the short-sighted British Parliament refused to stop interfering with home rule, undermining their influence at home. [This is me talking here. Mr. Roesch is kinder to all the founders.] Embracing the cause of independence, these self-aggrandizers embarked on the quest to build a new economic empire. To realize their goal, they needed a supreme, centralized government and a national “democracy,” served by said government.

Patriots to the republic managed to forestall them for the bulk of the next century, first with the Articles of Confederation, then with federalism, hallmarked by the state rights doctrine woven into the Constitution. Nevertheless, with the ratification of said Constitution, the states had sown the seeds of their demise. The destruction of the Southern Confederacy ended the federal republic and gave the ghosts of those old Tories their long-coveted crown. Hopefully they celebrated their victory in…, well, never mind where.

Today, some neo-cons still give lip service to the republic, or the Lincolnites’ perverse take on it, but with the Left picking up their banner of egalitarianism/pure democracy and exploding it, the neo-cons should be rethinking their position [Lincoln’s on the chopping block, too, and it’s not us Southerners putting him there]. Instead, they appease. Truth is the nationalists and the Left are both statists. Both need all references to state rights (true federalism) gone.

The nationalists have hidden behind the holy crusade to end slavery to justify their egregious violations of the Constitution since halfway through the “Civil War.” [They had other unifying causes before the abolitionists gave them slavery]. The farther time moves from those long-ago events, the more clouded the historical memory of everyday folk, and lack of education on the subject of both that War and the founding of the republic hastens the encroaching shadows. That is by design. There is no difference in the goal of modern Democrats and Republicans in regards to the republic.

Today’s attacks on the South not only go unchallenged by “so-called” conservatives, who by default the South supports, but are actually echoed by these same people, who mollify their treachery by stating something to the effect that we need to keep the history, but annotate it to remember our mistakes (sins). Pittance, I guess, is what these curs are trying to foster. Problem is slavery isn’t the operative mistake here, and what really needs to be remembered is being buried deeper and deeper beneath their obfuscation. The gutless wonders fear the PC crowd and believe they are protecting themselves from the Left’s onslaught by tossing such bones. Believers in the republic, or perhaps those who simply respect its memory, whether Southern or not, have no champion. Granted the republic is dead. The majority of Americans rejected it long ago. Today most don’t even know what it was, its having been perverted by self-aggrandizing politicians into something it wasn’t. But we Southerners being told to piss on our ancestors’ graves, all too often now by other Southerners, in order to further the ambitions of one statist group over those of another, is going too far.

One can pinpoint a number of places in our antebellum history highlighting the states’ and the peoples’ rejection of our federal republic. The states’ failure to support Kentucky's and Virginia's resolutions against Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts and later South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis; the application of the Constitution to the states by the Supreme court under Marshall; and the Northern states’ answering Lincoln’s call for troops to invade the South. The Missouri Crisis was a biggie. That’s when the South should have left the Union. It was clear then that sectional interests were simply too conflicting.

Reconstruction itself abounds with violations, but those violations may not have been so pervasive had the Northern populace not given Congress to the Radicals in the fall of 1866. But what did it matter at that point? The South was in shambles, and Northerners as a block had already shown how little they cared about our founders’ republic. They had, in fact, rejected it. They wanted a centralized Union, and they created one by force of arms. Today the old republic is only a memory being twisted into something evil, the final step before the statists feel comfortable in eradicating it altogether.

We need to keep that history untarnished, y’all. It’s what our Confederate ancestors fought for. In another time and another place, Patriots will need a foundation on which to build again. 

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Inauguration of Mississippi’s Republican Administration

This post is number fifty-two 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. That Republican defeat resulted in a second election—Washington’s Radicals were simply not going to take Mississippians’ rejection of their agenda as the answer. As planned, the election of a Radical administration in Mississippi followed. This post opens in Mississippi during the late fall of 1869 immediately following the Radical victory and continues through Alcorn’s inaugural address as governor. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, see the sidebar.
On 20 December, the Radical Republican ticket victorious in the fall election, Adelbert Ames, commander of the fourth military district and still provisional governor, issued an order announcing ratification of the progressive constitution and directed 11 January 1870 as the date for the new legislature to meet in Jackson. Further, by the authority invested in him by President Grant, (who received his authority from George Boutwell of Massachusetts—yes, I’m being what is known in the vernacular as a smart ass), Ames directed Alcorn to assume the role of provisional governor prior to his actual inauguration.

Alcorn refused. He informed Ames that he’d been elected governor by the people of Mississippi and he’d take his seat on inauguration day, [not under the shadow of military tyranny—my words, not his, but that was his point].

As governor, James Lusk Alcorn became the leader, for the first time in his political career, of a majority party with a new state constitution that gave him more power than any Mississippi chief executive who had held power before him. Given that state civil elections were not scheduled until the fall, he inherited from the military dictator who preceded him the right to appoint normally elected civil servants, to be approved by the state senate. 

Evidence supports Alcorn’s political descent from Federalist (in spirit if not in fact), to National Republican, to Whig. He came to Mississippi as a National Republican, became a Whig under the guidance of Henry Clay, and resorted to embracing the Northern offshoot of that defunct group out of pragmatic necessity. Personally, I don’t think he was ever really a Republican, but I think he was quick to embrace those strands of the Federalist wing of the old National Republicans when it served his purpose. Alcorn considered Jefferson Davis a weak “tyrant.” One might surmise from this how he would conduct his governorship.

During his campaign, Alcorn had attacked the civil-military government in Mississippi (because of its divided loyalty) for the rise in crime. I take this to mean he accused the civil powers (Southern residents) to turning a blind eye whenever their “side” committed (political) “crimes.” I say this, other than the opposite, because between 1867-1869, the period of the “Reconstruction Acts” and martial law, he had wanted the military governor given full reign over civil government, and he told his wife Amelia that if the Democrats won the legislature, he would advise Congress to continue martial law. Yeah, he was a believer in “democracy” all right. Of course, he couldn’t work with the Democrats—turned out he couldn’t work with the Republicans either for long. The Carpetbag Republicans had their agenda, the Scalawags theirs, the Democrats (who represented the majority of tax-paying Mississippians) theirs and then there was Alcorn who had his. Alcorn was focused on Congressional money, which he’d seen Congress bestow on the Northern states for decades, to rebuild Mississippi. He’d also watched the state’s Democrats, who stood on the principle that selling one’s soul to the central government undermined the rights of the states and their people to govern themselves, reject such funds his entire public life in Mississippi. Alcorn needed power to get that money, and now he thought he had it. The Carpetbaggers, of course, were in the state to line their pockets and the more money in the kitty, the better.

R. C. Powers, ex-United States Army, and by all accounts an honest man, had been elected Alcorn’s lieutenant governor; James Lynch, a Northern Negro minister, secretary of state; Henry Musgrove, another ex-member of the Grand Army of the “Union”, auditor; W. H. Vasser, a pre-war Mississippian, state treasurer; another Mississippian, Joshua A. Morris, attorney general; and Henry R. Pease, ex-U.S.A., superintendent of education.

Alcorn’s inaugural speech identified the South’s secession as failed treason against the Constitution, and he hailed the magnificent mercy of the Federal government in their handling of the failed rebellion—his way of giving thanks, I guess, for their ensuring his governorship instead of executing him given his bringing the house down on the 7th of January 1861 when he voted to take Mississippi out of the Union. His “statesmanship” of course, was predicated on the concept that the only time treason isn’t treason is when the traitors win. Very pragmatic. So, why didn’t he just fall on his sword? Like I said, the man was pragmatic. Alcorn placed the central government, now in the hands of traitors of the first rank, ahead of the Constitution, the republic, and the South. He intended not only to survive, but to thrive. One thing for certain can be said to his credit, he intended Mississippi to thrive right along with him. He was wrong, not only about his own people, whose attitude might have been a little better if he hadn’t been so delusional about the central government/Congress from which he assumed he and the state would receive succor. He actually thought the South was going to get its share of the pie now that Republicans were in control down here. 

Lillian Pereyra says Alcorn “...was one of the few Southerners on whom the reality of the preceding events had made an impression...” Really? Does she think the reality of preceding events had not impressed all Southerners? I think what she meant was he was one of the few Southerners on whom those events had made the “right” impression. You can interpret that to mean, in my opinion, Pereyra was either an idealist who in contemporary times embraced the concept of one Leviathan United State or a realist who accepted the fact the republic was dead and gone, time to move on and share in un-republican greed. I don’t know what she really believed, but I do think Alcorn suffered from a false impression of whom he was dealing with in the North, or those with whom he was wheeling and dealing in Washington had led him down the garden path. [Of course, if one were to hear Ames and the other Radicals in Mississippi tell it today, they might well say it was Alcorn who led those with whom he was dealing in Washington down the garden path.]

Maybe Alcorn realized he was taking a gamble and thought the potential gains worth the risk. I think the majority of old leaders in the South—those who remained, at leastknew exactly what they were up against and weren’t willing to stroll down the path or gamble with the Republicans because they knew the deck was stacked and the South was not going to benefit in any form or fashion. Any plum awarded the South would serve the North or some Republican sycophant tenfold. So, call Southerners stupid and stubborn if you want. Stubborn I’ll buy, stupid no. Those old Southrons were right about the South’s fate. And, no, kowtowing to those traitors up North wouldn’t have made a difference. They had a war to pay off, long-postponed public works to restart, and coffers to refill to make it all work. Rebuilding the South was not part of their agenda. Needless to say, the biggest fault found with Alcorn’s speech was his calling the South’s secession “treason.”

In addition to his despicable “confession” regarding secession, Alcorn lectured the people on the responsibility of government (this to a people who long believed that the least government was the best government). Now, said he, given the new order, the state had a duty to look out for the welfare of all people rather than the heads of a few chosen families. [Thats a mercantilist theme, not Southern Democrat!] Because of this greater responsibility, taxation would be much greater, but application of those taxes would tend to enrich the state through industrial colleges and public schools because the highest production of wealth follows what’s created by combining muscle and intelligence. You know, the “intelligentsia” that builds factories and industry to provide jobs for the rest of us peons—get off the farm and live in a slum for a pittance. Just where does that produced wealth end up? Factory work may or may not provide security. At least the farm boy would no longer be at the mercy of the weather, but he would be at the mercy of new workers if he demanded increased wages—labor unions backed by the government hadn’t evolved yet; in fact, the situation was just the opposite—industrialists backed by the government using what was for all intents and purposes “slave” labor, except their workers received a pittance, which was the qualifier between free and slave labor. 

To put it succinctly, Alcorn was going to make Mississippi like the North, and Mississippians were going to pay higher taxes to live in Utopia. Theoretically, at least, all that industrialization would increase income/profits which leads naturally to increased taxation, managed by increased bureaucracy, which meant more jobs. The real cost to all this government control? Individual liberty, what our ancestors had fought for roughly a century earlier and Southerners had struggled to hold onto less than a decade before.

In the interest of economy, Alcorn stated in his speech that he was not in favor of large expenditures on public works. That part had been a bone to the upper classes who paid the majority of the taxes (property). Plus, his plan was to use Federal aid to pay for any public improvements he did enact. That’s the way the North did it. And it should be noted that in this part of his speech, he invoked the memory of Henry Clay...and love of the “Union.” He also let it be known that he planned to inactivate the militia, but would call it out if lawlessness broke out, which would result in heavier taxation.

I’ve done a little research, but I’m still not sure about the status of the militia at that time. All Southern militias had been deactivated in March 1867 with martial law, and I don’t know what authority the provisional governors had to reactivate them, nor, with the army present, if any would have. Alcorn’s statement, however, seems to  indicate there was an active militia at the time of his inauguration.
Alcorn stated there would be equality at the ballot box, jury box, and in the distribution of public office to coloreds and poor whites, but softened his egalitarian stance by stating that wealth, intelligence, and social position have always been and trusted always would be great powers in the state.

Then he contrasted the more “practical” accomplishments of the North—their canals, harbors, railroads with the intellectual political theorizing in the South, stating Southerners must abandon it for the “wiser” statesmanship which devotes itself to the fosterage of material interests. Now, read that again.

And there it is, folks, in a nutshell. Think about Alcorn’s words above and Pereyra’s assumption he understood the reality of what had just happened. This is the reason for the war and you can combine those thoughts with hundreds of others, but what comes readily to mind are Sherman’s words referring to state-rights “nonsense” to his subordinate over in Alabama. Here, now, Alcorn is telling his people to forget the Constitution and wallow in the greed/power that can only be fostered through centralization. Of course, it would be those with money and political influence who would always have benefited. Yeoman farmers were savvy enough to know who would provide the muscle for this new “statesmanship.” The Negro, looking to Alcorn for leadership and drunk on his political value, didn’t realize (and may not have cared) where this was leading. Blacks and poor whites were being lumped together at the bottom of the totem pole as cheap labor. Bones in the form of work, wages, and education were being tossed their way. Everyone would be free and happy, taxed to pay for their often “unsolicited” benefits...or for benefits demanded by and for someone else. 
With every government benefit provided, a piece of individual liberty is lost.
Alcorn considered himself the ideal man to lead Mississippi from the abyss and back into the Union. Whether he was the ideal man or not is somewhat irrelevant. That abyss is Alcorn’s concept. The South had already been pushed into the abyss. He was the one willing to contaminate himself, pulling Mississippi up and over the edge by breaching the gap between invading Radicals and native conservatives.

I’ll continue with the actual Alcorn administration next time.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mississippi’s Readmission to the Union, With Conditions

This post is number fifty-one 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. With proscription conditions in the new constitution modified, the Republicans triumphed in the second election and the new puppet legislature enacted the final requirements for readmission. This post picks up the story in Washington during the winter of 1870. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, see the sidebar.

The legislature having completed its requirements as laid down by Congress, it retired to await the blessings of Congress, from which the new puppet Republican legislature expected the state’s speedy admission to the Union equal to that of the original state. In reality, true “equality” vis-à-vis the central government was dead for all the states—federalism itself having been butchered along with the Confederacy.

To emphasize this point: In conjunction with Mississippi’s readmission, Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts introduced a bill making it a qualification that any state officer swear under oath never to have born arms against the United States, unless that encumbrance had already been removed. It was the same old “iron-clad oath” requirement. Recall we’d been through this with Butler before. This new iteration referred to holding office, sans the voting restriction, but the stipulation already existed in the Fourteenth Amendment. But the bill also added the condition that the recalcitrant states could never amend their constitutions to deprive a citizen of the vote, right to hold office, or attend public schools. Such amendments to their constitutions of course, new, old, or amended, are the prerogatives of the individual states themselves. And more telling, why should such conditions be relegated to the “recalcitrant” states? And the condition that any state not be able to alter its constitution matter for what “noble” cause the restraint was perpetrated, is (was I should say) anathema to our federal system. Except where specifically outlined in the Constitution, the central government had no say in state matters. The restrictions in Butler’s “recalcitrant” state bill would shortly deprive Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas of their equality with the original members of the Union, and the denial of a state’s right to change its organic laws is contrary to federalism. Kentucky’s James Beck, still fighting, offered a counter proposal, “unconditional readmission.” The Butler Bill passed the House 136-56.

The debate in the Senate on Butler’s bill continued for two weeks at which point moderate Republican John Sherman of Ohio, who was no friend of the South (yes, he is little Billy’s brother) said on February 17th that he was going to start messing with other pieces of legislation if there wasn’t movement on the bill (don’t know which side he was taking). The senate judiciary committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, another individual who was no friend of the South, found that Mississippi met all prior requirements for readmission and recommended unconditional readmission. The Senate rejected those findings, then passed the House (Butler’s) bill, in conjunction with Mississippi’s readmission, and sent it to the president. Grant signed it on the 23 February 1870.

This is the final aftermath of the battle that had been fought and won by the people of Mississippi in the summer of 1868.  Grant himself recommended separate votes on the proscription clauses and the constitution. As a result, in the fall of 1869 proscription was defeated and the progressive constitution passed. Now, only months later, Congress has made a de facto repudiation of the Mississippi taxpayer’s will and its token Republican president has participated in the treachery. I do not know Alcorn’s take on this treachery, but he is on record for telling his wife Amelia prior to the gubernatorial election in the fall of 1869, that if the Democrats won (Dent), he’d recommend Congress continue martial law in the state. Looking at the votes in both houses of Congress, it’s clear the bill was a collusion to give Mississippi’s usurping Republicans what the people of the state had denied them.

Writing in 1901, James Garner in Reconstruction in Mississippi states that after five years with no representation in Washington, and three of those years under martial law, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union under “conditions” that impaired her sovereignty. Congress, in assuming the power to deprive the state of the right to change its governing constitution in certain particulars, arrogated to itself sovereign powers, and had it been able to enforce its commands, the principle of the federal system would have been destroyed.

[H]ad it been able to enforce its commands...?

Garner was writing at a time when Republican hegemony over the federal government had been cracked, a time when folks who still believed in the Constitution and understood the basic tenants of federalism it governed. Sadly, those conditions do not exist today, and the underlying weaknesses of federalism framed during Reconstruction, the usurpation of state rights by a tyrannical central government, is today characterized by a worthless Congress and an overreaching executive branch, which Congress itself has been strengthening for decades with powerful, unconstitutional agencies to the detriment of us all. To us true believers in the founders’ republic, federal law does not trump state law. Federal law only trumps state law where the federal government has been delegated supreme power by the states, and those instances are limited. But that means nothing when the states fail to react, just like they did nothing in 1861 when Lincoln opted to make war on the Southern states after they legally seceded from a hostile “Union.” Well, okay, those Northern states did do something. They supported him against sister states to the detriment not only of the South, but to the republic. With the forced ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, the principle of the federal system framed by our founders was destroyed.

After President Grant signed the bill readmitting Mississippi to the Union (with the conditions attached), Henry Wilson, the junior senator from Massachusetts, presented the credentials of Hiram Revels to the Senate. Revels’ credentials had been signed by Brevet Major General and Provisional Governor Adelbert Ames. A point rose as to the appropriateness of Ames’ signing Revels’ credentials—ha, wait until they get to Ames’—on two counts: Military officer certification was not on the list of evidence required by law, and Ames was not the true executive, Alcorn was. But remember, Alcorn couldn’t execute anymore than the legislature could legislate until after the bill admitting the state into the Union was signed by the president (by which time Ames and Revels were already in Washington. Perhaps they should have waited, huh? Got their credentials in order, then caught a later train?). I conclude the Senators figured Alcorn could have signed them and should have. Instead the arrogant Ames had done the deed.

They hemmed and hawed over Revels’ credentials for two days, then one of them proposed to just let the Senate vote to seat him, which it proceeded to do, 48-8. Popular sentiment brands those Democrats who opposed Revels’ seating as racists and the Republicans who supported him as brave reformers determined to eliminate the special burdens placed on the Negro. Hogwash. The Republicans were just as racist, and their constituents more malevolent in their opposition to the Negro than a Southern Democrat whose racism was condescending, yes, but comparatively benevolent. The Republicans sacrificed their racial prejudices to permanently break the link between the government framed in 1787 and the nationalist one they were codifying into law as of 1870. Whether the Democrats were racist, benevolent, malevolent, or whatever, is irrelevant. Their unsuccessful struggle was an effort to halt the creation of a tyrannical central government and its ancillary destruction of republican principles. The law/arguments used to seat Revels in 1870 were unconstitutional.  The race card was not needed to make their point. The Republicans, however, did need it to make theirs.

Now, as to those platitudes of poetic justice made in the case of a Negro taking Jeff Davis’ seat in the U. S. Senate. Davis’ physical chair had long before been taken by a Kansas senator who refused to give it up. (That actual, physical chair, of course, is another irrelevancy, but was considered symbolic by the idealists of the day). And as for the story that had been bouncing around since Davis resigned his seat in the Senate in 1861 in which Davis supposedly told Pennsylvania Senator Simon Cameron that he’d probably be replaced by a Negro in a few years time, that story has also been turned on its ear and reiterated with it being a prescient Cameron informing Davis of that dire fate. It doesn’t matter which one said it.  It’s all faux “poetic justice.” The seat Revels filled was the one vacated in 1861 by Mississippi’s junior senator, Albert Brown. Ames took Davis’ seat, and personally, I think Revels would have made a much better fill.

When Ames presented his credentials to the Senate, signed by his own hand, the issue of his seating went to the judiciary committee. The committee reported back that Ames had gone to Mississippi under orders as a military officer, and he was not a citizen of the state. That report from its own judiciary committee was not sufficient for the Senate to simply say, “go home,” preferably to Maine.
[All those Republican senators were mad at Trumbull, anyway, for breaking ranks and not voting to convict Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial.]

Seating Ames took weeks. His chief supporters in the Senate were Radical Republicans Oliver P. Morton (Indiana’s gubernatorial tyrant; now, Senator), George Boutwell (Massachusetts), and George Edmunds (Vermont), and moderate Republican John Sherman (Ohio). Ames’ primary opponents were Democrats Thomas Bayard (Delaware) and Allen Thurman (Ohio).

Again citing Garner, Ames’ acceptance of the Senate seat from Mississippi’s legislature, over which, as provisional governor, he wielded influence, was (at best) in poor taste. He owned no real property in the state and paid little or no taxes. He knew little of the state or its needs. He was a stranger to Mississippi and her people. He had no respect for their tastes, habits, and prejudices, and he admitted that had he failed to get his appointment to the Senate, he would not have made Mississippi his home.

And on that note, back in Jackson, the puppet legislature passed a joint resolution to Congress stating that Ames’ election had been regular and legal, so seat him. Given that, the Senate rejected 40-12 the judiciary committee’s report. This non-resident Ames not only represented Mississippi in the U.S. Senate, he would go on to do so as governor. Ames turned out to be a special emissary of the Negro race, and he later admitted that in leaving the military for a civil career he’d made the “fatal” error of his life.

No matter what else, by General Order 25 of 26 February 1870, the Fourth Military District ceased to exist. [Arkansas, the other state making up the Fourth Military District, had been readmitted to the Union in 1868, also under a puppet administration.]

Back to Mississippi, next time, and Alcorn’s inaugural speech, outlining his optimistic vision for the brand new United States, and the South’s finally getting its hand in the till.

In your dreams, Alcorn.

 Thanks for reading,


Saturday, February 3, 2018

They Gulped the Blood and Gobbled the Flesh...

A post in the “Skewing Southern History Series”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’d become strained doing too many things at once and finishing nothing, so last summer I took a hiatus from blogging. My historical research, however, has not suffered, only the dissemination of my findings, aside from comments and what I hope have been appropriate shares on Google Plus, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook. But as I’ve stated before, sometimes something crosses one’s path that cannot be left go. Such was a Pinterest prompt for my  “Confederacy” board on which I pin photos of Confederate soldiers, Southern memorials, and other such tidbits related to a short-lived sovereign nation to which I pay homage.

The prompt was a photo of an unidentified Confederate soldier in cavalry boots (which I would have naturally pinned). I clicked the photo and was taken to an All Things Interesting article published on 27 September 2017. The title of the article was “America’s Darkest Hour: 39 Haunting Photos of The Civil War.” Now I’m not real big on dead soldiers on the battle ground, even Yankee ones, which considering my loyalties might be considered a little more palatable...though certainly not much. All I wanted was the fella in cavalry boots. But one had to click to go somewhere else to see the photos, so I started reading the article instead. At the git-go, it appeared to be a bipartisan accounting of a terrible tragedy that happened a long time ago; in short, a quick overview to accompany the photos, an account one would write for a child or foreigner who’d just parachuted in here and knew nothing of our War Between the States [talk about fire bells clamoring in the night]. I’ve got a pretty good laywoman’s knowledge of events, so initially there was nothing in there I wasn’t aware of. Then, halfway through the article (it isn’t a long one) came something I was not familiar with. I quote:

“For four deadly years, the country endured not only its bloodiest and most vicious military conflict, but also some of its cruelest racial hatred. Adding to the already immense heap of skulls, Confederates used disease, starvation, exposure, and outright execution to kill hundreds of thousands of former slaves during the war, a figure not included in death toll estimates thanks to a deliberate lack of record keeping.”

Not “hundreds”, y’all, not even “thousands”, but hundreds of thousands. And exactly when did this “lack of evidence” proving the occurrence of genocide come to light? And speaking of creating fact from non-existent evidence, why didn’t the writer take the gruesome lie one step further and explain away the absence of hundreds of thousands of Negroid skulls? Allow me to demonstrate: “There’s no evidence of the holocaust dear gullible reader (the article’s readership) because the Confederates ate the murdered slaves.”

Ha, you see, I really can write compelling fiction! Yes siree, that’s the perfect sequel to this horror story being attributed to my Southern ancestors, and my embellishment makes so much sense. The Confederates were, after all, hungry. Shortages were rampant due to invasion and blockade, so they “gulped the blood and gobbled the flesh and greedily gorged on the lifeless corpse[s].”* And once they had eaten their fill, they boiled the fat for soap, then ground the skeletal mass into meal for bread and cake. That’s why today’s fine teams of modern investigative journalists, such as the writer of the dung defecated in the ATI article, can’t find where the bodies are buried.

Let’s break down the above paragraph further. Consider the line about “a deliberate lack of record keeping?” That alone should tell any reasonable reader how far the writer will go to insult his intelligence. Why, if one were to do such a thing, would the executioners make a record of it? It’s not as if the victims had property to account for; they were property. Maybe that explains it. The executioners were keeping the murders secret from the rightful owners who were off somewhere else fighting Yankees. Ya think? Duh. Consider, too, the time it would have taken away from the army’s defending against invaders. I wonder if the writer of the article has any idea how many Yankees were running around in the South between 1862-1865. Certainly enough to come across hundreds of thousands of murdered slaves. I wonder if he/she even knows Yankees invaded the South or where the war was fought? Besides, don’t you know [I’m being facetious here], few Southerners could read and write, so keeping a record would have been difficult.

But the underlying implications are more sinister than that. Note the use of the words “deliberate lack...” By referencing a perceived requirement for such a record, of which someone in a position of power would have made a conscious effort to forgo, the writer is implicating the Confederate government in a conspiracy to annihilate its Negro population. Where exactly is the writer of this article going with this?

Yes, well, I know, too.

Next, let’s look at the line “used disease, starvation, exposure, and outright execution....” That is blatant plagiarism of Southern charges of Federal excesses (national policy) against Southern civilians, black and white. That is precisely where the writer of the ATI article stole that line. Such policy is a component of total war and during the War Between the States was routinely carried out by Federal officers in command in the South as sanctioned by their civilian head, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and blessed by their sanctified leader Abraham Lincoln.

The charge against the Confederacy is, of course, false, and the proof (other than those yet-to-be-uncovered heaps up skulls) is evident by the simple fact that such horrendous deeds make no sense. There’s no record, not because of poor record keeping or pre-sanctioned omission, but because it didn’t happen. Why would Southerners who had, for two and a half centuries, lived intimately with the Negro: Slept with him, ate with him, nursed and been nursed by him, fought and died along side him for more than two centuries in our nation’s struggles leading up to the War Between the States suddenly start exterminating him?  I’m not talking about Negroes who fell behind enemy lines and ended up in the Federal army. They chose to take up arms as soldiers (or we could hope so, anyway) and were fair game like all soldiers taking up arms and invading the sovereign South.

The charge of premeditated extermination [and that’s what paragraph four of the ATI article is] is equally oxymoronic in light of the fallacious argument that the South seceded to preserve slavery..., then decided to exterminate its slaves? But wait! Maybe we’ve stumbled upon yet another point to ponder. Is the “all about slavery” narrative morphing into “it was all about removing the perceived inferior race from the United States?”

Sorry, folks, that exclusive “white-man’s-only nation” attitude was the battle cry of another group.

I’m not going to argue that the antebellum white Southerner wasn’t racist; he definitely was. But his racism was predominantly benevolent, and no matter how demeaning that benevolence, it falls well shy of atrocity. I say this, one, because Southerners are basically good people and, two, because that benevolence helped them justify the institution. It was the Northern attitude towards the Negro that was malevolent and that malevolence played out against the “contaminated” South and white Southerners, who had supposedly degenerated vis-à-vis their superior Northern counterparts after two hundred and fifty years of intimacy with the Negro race. In my opinion, and this is strictly my opinion, the greatest shame of the Southern Democrats and the modern Klan (not the original) is their self-aggrandizing embracing, then making truth of, a Yankee lie.

In light of the sordid tale of genocide masquerading as “fact” presented above, the rather slipshod description of Davis’ capture near the end of the article comes as no surprise.

I had never heard of All Things Interesting, but it has a substantial readership and is part of the online media, PBH Network. There are no by lines, attributions, or supporting references in the 27 September article. Whoever wrote the thing conducted only superficial research in slapping the piece together. They are unconcerned with the war, its causes, its repercussions, or the people involved. They are either convinced that all right-thinking Americans regard those who defended/still defend the Confederacy as either dead or to have seen the light and become “good” Americans, or they’re trying to convince the rest of us that’s the case. Extant defenders are nothing more than lunatics who support “proven” racist traitors and represent only a fringe of the Southern population.

Promulgation of such lies is what ATI counts on to grow its readership. That’s how propaganda works. The Left (assuming ATI isn’t financed by the Left) finds such ignorance a useful tool to achieve its agenda.  This is the legacy “neo-conservatives”, many in leadership positions across the South, have left us. A large number of Americans don’t know where this nation, or they themselves, came from. They look at America’s ante-bellum past as they do that of the Roman Republic: It was long ago, and there’s no one invested in it any longer. They feel right in saying and/or accepting whatever nonsense they “think they know,” packaging it as truth, and shouting it to the world if it furthers their agenda. These born-yesterday Americans derive from two different sources, new arrivals and the much more egregious multi-generationals who find validation in detaching themselves from ancestors who sacrificed their immortal souls, according to their progeny’s self-righteous interpretation of right and wrong, to give them what they have today. We in the South have long been blessed with a paucity of both. Disgracefully, the number among the latter is growing.

*Beowulf for those of you who have forgotten that classic example of old-English alliteration from high school.

Thanks for reading,