I'm not trying to justify the South or slavery. It just aggravates the snot out of me to hear the old Republican party held up as saints of liberation and justice. Barack Obama would have fit in just fine.
Andrew Johnson was a Southerner who loved the South. He wasn't an abolitionist, but he hated the wealthy, powerful planters and career politicians. He believed the radical, hard line they had taken had caused the war. For all that, though, Johnson was not even in the same league with Thaddeus Stevens, et al, who were driven by hatred of everything Southern, and more so by anything that challenged federal power.
It would not be right to say that all Republicans lusted for power, and through carelessness, I pretty much did say that. Sorry. But there was a powerful, radical core in the Republican party, and they caused no end of mischief. The Radicals in Congress were determined to keep them out of public service, especially positions of power. Contrary to popular mythology, the KKK was not initially the terrorist group it became, and Nathan Bedford Forrest did not start it. Forrest was contacted by the founders of the Klan and asked to rep for them. As the Klan was explained to Forrest, it was to be sort of a fraternal organization of former Confederate officers, dedicated to helping each other find work and adjust to living among the corpses of their dreams. (Whatever one might think of Southern politics, those men put everything they had, and then some, into the cause.) Forrest thought that was a good idea and agreed to be the public face of the Klan. The organization very quickly turned ugly, and Forrest not only disassociated himself from it, he wrote to his Congressional delegation and suggested that the Klan be outlawed. The treatment Forrest has received from modern academians, liberals, and the NNACP is utterly shameful.
The War Between the States was not a civil war. A civil war is a war between factions within a nation for control of that nation. Southerners did not want to control the nation. They wanted nothing to do with the United States, most especially its government. They said, “You folks go on and do what you want, but we’re going to strike out on our own.” It was a war of independence, every bit as much as the one in 1775. Many Southerners were surprised when Lincoln mustered an army and sent it south; much as they despised him, they didn’t believe even he could be that crazy.
Here is the critical point: The South did not threaten the Federal government. It did not try to alter it or hinder it in any way, save to deny its control over the South. The war waged by the North was not to protect the federal government. It was a war for one purpose, and one purpose, only: to make sure those damned white trash down there never tried to do anything on their own again. In that, it succeeded. Maybe.
Lincoln was no lover of Blacks. Apparently he hated slavery, but not because it degraded the slaves. He hated slavery because association with Blacks, even as masters to slaves, was corrosive to the character of the White race. He was not an abolitionist to any degree, at all. Shortly before the war, he said that his objective was to preserve the Union, and if he had to destroy slavery to do it, he would, but if he had to preserve slavery to do it, he’d do that, too. The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated on the American people by professors – and that’s going some!
There was a preliminary proclamation issued in Sept. of ’62, right after Antietam. That proclamation differed subtly but significantly from the final one issued in January of ’63. The preliminary proclamation urged Slaves to take whatever means necessary to secure their freedom, and said that the US government would protect them and help them if possible. Lincoln, who possessed an almost supernatural grasp of human nature, knew that Southerners would interpret that to mean that the US government was encouraging and edifying slave revolt and the murder of Whites (which, in fact, it was). They remembered Nat Turner’s Rebellion, and the very thought of what Lincoln was suggesting made the mildest Southerner a diehard radical. The entire South rejected the Proclamation vehemently, and it was during that reaction that the Confederate Congress issued the infamous extermination notice – that any former slave caught in US uniform, or serving the US army in any way would be executed. (The movie “Glory” mentioned this.)
So Lincoln deliberately wrote the preliminary Proclamation in such a way as to infuriate the South and solidify its resolve to fight to the death. In private, Lincoln and his cabinet assured the Congress and Northern governors that the Proclamation was just a political ploy to make it appear that the war was over slavery. If France or England were to come in on the side of the South, they’d have to deal with being called pro-slavery by the rest of the world. When the final Proclamation was issued, it caused havoc in the North. Vermont debated secession. The entire 15th Corps, one of the finest in the Army of the Tennessee, broke camp and headed back to Illinois, saying, “We’ll be damned if we’ll die for the Niggers.” Only the charisma of Black Jack Logan kept them in the order of battle. There were race riots and large-scale lynchings of Blacks in Detroit, New York, and even Washington, DC. Northern editors excoriated Lincoln for murdering good White people for the sake of Blacks.
Lincoln’s ploy for international opinion worked. The preliminary Proclamation was never published abroad, so it appeared that Southern rage was associated with the final one, which was more reasonable. Lincoln stood there, with his palms up, shrugging his shoulders, and saying, “See what I have to deal with? These hillbillies are really terrible people.” England and France breathed a sigh of relief because they could posture on the “moral high ground,” and stay out of the war. Privately, their governments had been horrified at the casualties being taken by both sides, and had no desire to feed their men into such slaughter.
The radical abolitionist faction notwithstanding, there is no way any reasonable person could conclude that the War Between the States was fought to end slavery – not by the politicians, and certainly not by the vast majority of men who fought in it. Of course, the NAACP and other organizations like them should never be mentioned in the same breath with the word – (breathe in, breathe out) “reasonable.”
If further evidence is needed that the war was fought for the subjugation of the Southern people, consider what happened following the war. Secessionist states were not allowed to be readmitted to the Union or have seats in Congress until they ratified the 13th Amendment. If the North had been fighting for abolition, wouldn’t one think that perhaps Washington, DC, might have outlawed slavery BEFORE the 13th Amendment? In fact, mightn’t they have passed the amendment at the outset, since they did it without participation or consent of the South, anyway? Mightn’t the Emancipation Proclamation have freed slaves in areas controlled by the Washington government, rather than saying, EXPLICITLY, that if the South would cease its rebellion and send representatives back to Washington, they COULD KEEP THEIR SLAVES? The Proclamation did NOT declare slaves free! Oh, hell no! It defined the conditions under which slave owners could keep their “property!”
The US government killed a couple hundred thousand Southern men, destroyed millions of acres of farmland, burned out tens of thousands of families and businesses, wrecked ports and railroads, then sent Black troops into the South to enforce the eviction of Southerners from farms and plantations that had been in their families for generations – even centuries – with no regard to whether or not those families had owned slaves. Those properties were then broken up and given to former slaves, and, in some cases, free Blacks. At the same time, the KKK actually grew faster in states like Illinois and Pennsylvania than in Georgia because all those former slaves headed north like a plague of locusts – filthy, ignorant, and unskilled. No, it was most emphatically not their fault, but the fact is they didn’t make very good neighbors, and all those pious damnyankees didn’t want ‘em anywhere near.
(In the early 1960’s, Dick Gregory, who later used his brain for a tether ball, said, “In the north, they don’t care how big I get, as long as I don’t get too close. In the south, they don’t care how close I get, as long as I don’t get to big.”)
Then, after crushing the South militarily, seizing their governments and institutions, putting armed troops – and Black troops, at that - in their streets, the Federal government passed the 13th Amendment. Passed it without the participation or consent of Southern delegates, as if the secessionist states were not part of the Union. Thus, the federal government, led almost solely by Lincoln, prosecuted a war that slew 600,000 Americans, under the premise that the South was still part of the Union, and the uprising was criminal, not diplomatic – and after all that, passed a nation-changing measure without the participation of those who had supposedly never left the Union. And then, while holding the Southern people by the throat and at the points of bayonets, the Southern people were told that, if they ever wanted to be permitted to kiss the boots of the tyrants they’d given 200,000 lives to be rid of, they had to accept the 13th Amendment. The hypocrisy is beyond staggering!
So. Yes. I think Abraham Lincoln is the greatest mass murderer in American history. I think the Federal government waged a war of subjugation against the South, and I think the 13th Amendment was passed without the consent of people who were forced, at gunpoint, to ratify it.
Lest I be accused of defending pro-slavery Democrats, I should say that, in my opinion, they deserved everything they got - a taste of being helpless and hopeless. It's a shame they couldn't have had a little taste of being owned! I just hate to see people twist history to make Lincoln, et al look like friggin' saints.
I have heard Northerners express variations on, "Why can't you damned inbred hillbillies accept the fact that we kicked your asses, and shut up and accept it?" I tell them, "Well, I think you just answered your own question." I was at a trade show in Boston, and at the kick-off luncheon, was sitting with several people from that area. One lady commented on my accent and asked if I were from the south I said, "Yes, Ma'am, I'm from Texas."
Without missing a beat, she said, "Are you in the Klan?" I said, "No. Are you?" She threw her napkin at me and left the table. Not one of the yankees (pardon my use of half-words) said another word to me, or about the incident.
Neither I not any other Southerner I know are looking for reparations or apologies. We're just looking for the truth. For example, movies have been made about Andersonville, and I've been accused of approving what happened there. Whenever anyone talks about the moral reasoning of the two sides, Andersonville comes up pretty quick. But consider this comparison: Andersonville was open less than a year, and right at 3000 men died there. The commandant was hanged, and to this day, the entire Southern people are scourged for it. The federal prison at Elmira, NY, was open for a little over 6 months, and right at 3000 men died there. The commandant was given a medal and promotion, and not one American out of 10,000 ever heard of Hellmira.