Fighting for Washington and Lee

(April 9, 2021) The letter below is from a Washington & Lee alumni group to its members concerning their efforts to keep the name of Lee in Washington & Lee. I suspect there may be an announcement for the W&L administration next month, which media publicity suggests will be a name change. As the letter below indicates, however, it appears that many people are working behind the scenes to keep Lee in the school’s name. Take heart. 

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Friends,  

One of the developments which has been most pleasing to The Generals Redoubt has been the affiliation of other groups and individuals with our cause. We are particularly happy about the contacts we have made with current members of the student body. To read the newspapers or watch the television, one would think that the majority of Washington and Lee students are in favor of changing the name of the university and removing or changing many other traditions. In fact, those who are committed to these changes are really a pretty small group, and they are equaled or surpassed by those who don’t want to change the name and want to preserve our history, values, and traditions.

We have met with students from many different organizations and have offered them support in a number of ways. These include members of the College Republicans, The Spectator newspaper, The Federalist Society, and a new group called Students for Historical Preservation. We are also supporting students in their efforts to form other on campus groups. In December a group of 70+ students wrote a letter to the Board of Trustees stating their opposition to changing the name of the university. They said, in part, that the name change will not actually change student culture and emphasized the importance of addressing nuanced history appropriately. They warned against the ever-growing cancel culture, and suggested a required course in institutional history.  

We are also very excited about the growth of parental interest in our mission and goals. In early February, a group of 200 parents of current and former students, under the leadership of Judith Conlon, the mother of a 2016 graduate, sent a letter to the Board of Trustees expressing their opposition to a name change. We have attached this letter. Within the next month, the parent group plans to send a second letter to the Board with additional parent signatures.   

Nor has The Generals Redoubt been silent during this period. On February 26th, our President, Tom Rideout, sent a letter to the Rector of the Board congratulating the Board on a change in their by-laws which restored an element of student self-governance while, at the same time, reducing the role of the faculty in controlling student life and activities. An appendix, written by John Lane of our Board of Directors, pointed out that during the last summer the student executive committee acted in an inappropriate manner in announcing their support for a name change to the university. This letter is also attached.  

The Generals Redoubt continues to grow and to attract support. We continue in almost constant contact with the administration and Board. Preserving the name of our school is just the first of many steps which need to be taken to restore balance, true freedom of speech, and ideological diversity to Washington and Lee.  

Neely Young 

Vice President, The Generals Redoubt  

One way to fight against a name change at Washington & Lee is to share the six minute video below defending Lee. You can share it on YouTube or merely email it to your friends. 

Remove MLB’s Antitrust Exemption

(April 5, 2021) Major League Baseball tickets are expensive and taxpayers are burdened with stadium costs  partly because MLB is exempt from American antitrust laws. The teams don’t compete in a free market for players. If MLB is going to try to control election laws, as they are attempting to do in Georgia, the Federal Government should stop giving them special privileges. 

The antitrust exemption is an example of big business colluding with big government in an unholy alliance of mutual support. MLB gets a monopoly and the friendly politicians get giant donations.

This has been going on since before the War Between the States. Prior to the war America’s three biggest manufacturing industries—cotton textiles, iron products and woolens—all benefitted from protective tariffs even though the Constitution did not explicitly authorize tariffs for such purposes. Tariffs were supposed to be for revenue, not tools for subsidizing private industry. Yet antebellum Northern politicians argued for them as qualifying under the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution’s taxing power. Consequently, the Confederate Constitution dropped the “general welfare” clause. (See, it wasn’t all about slavery.) 

MLB’s relocation of its All Star game from Atlanta as a means of punishing the state for passing a new voter integrity law is an abuse of power. In truth, the Georgia law is more liberal than the voting laws of New York state. MLB must be answered. Consider contacting your Senators and Congressman to urge that they end antitrust exemption for Major League Baseball. You may also want to let them know that the Confederate constitution outlawed subsidies for private industry. 

 

Confederate Memory and Today’s GOP

(April 3, 2021) Today’s Republicans are on the run. They are getting what they deserve.

This past week President Biden lied when he said that Georgia’s new voter integrity bill would change the hours during which the polls are open or that it would prevent anyone from taking a drink of water while waiting in line to vote or that the proposed absentee ballots regulations are oppressive. Even the Washington Post gave Biden Four Pinocchios. Yet nearly all of the mainstream media repeats his falsehoods as both factual news and reasons for punishing Georgia. As a result, the state’s Republicans are being bullied. Major League Baseball has moved their planned All Star game out of the state while former President Barack Obama cheers them on. By denouncing the act Coca-Cola and Delta basically endorse Biden’s lies.

Confederate Heritage defenders have known that Biden will lie for political advantage since he accused those wanting to preserve Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue in 2017 as being racists. He deliberately conflated the statue defenders with a separate group of white supremacists when he falsely accused former President Trump of referring to the supremacist group as “very fine people.” Contemporary videos undeniably show that Trump was referring to the statue defenders—not the supremacists. Thus, Biden lied in order to tar Trump in the mind of the public with a white supremacist’s brush. Notwithstanding video proof of Biden’s lie, nearly all Republican politicians failed to challenge Biden because they were too afraid to associate themselves with anyone wanting to honor Lee.  None gave a full-throated defense of Lee’s statue.

Notwithstanding that Confederate monuments have been an important political issue in Georgia since at least 2017, neither of the Party’s two candidates in the January Senate runoff election said a single word in their defense. As a result the state’s traditional voters may have boycotted the election. That may explain why the GOP lost control of the Senate when Georgia sent two new Democrats to Washington.

Since then, Republicans have become panicked by reversals on multiple fronts. First, President Biden threatens the Right to Bear Arms. Yet the National Rifle Association did not defend Confederate Heritage notwithstanding that Heritage supporters probably own more guns than the average American. Second, the Democrats are trying to destroy the Senate filibuster. Third, Democrats also seek statehood for Washington, D. C. and possibly Puerto Rico in order to gain long-term control of the Federal Government. By dominating new state admissions they are merely following the strategy of the postbellum nineteenth century GOP, which was designed to give political power to the North while impoverishing the South. Consider, for example, that each of the first 11 states that joined the Union after the start of the Civil War added two new Republicans to the Senate at a time when the South’s economic interests were aligned with the Democrat Party.

In truth, former South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley triggered Southern cultural genocide when she removed the Confederate Battle Flag from the state capitol grounds in 2015. Few, if any, Republicans have regretted the resulting cultural annihilation during the last six years. Many even continue to cheer it onward. No matter how vigorously Washington Democrats move to marginalize the power of the state houses, the Republicans in those states may find that they have underestimated the number of voters alienated by their failure to defend Confederate statues. Similarly, in declining to give a voice to Heritage defenders, even the media properties that are fighting against the growing centralization of government may lose more support than they expect.

Now that Biden has says he wants to raise taxes, the big  Republican politicos may also regret that they never took a stand on cultural issues. If all Republican leaders really care about is lower taxes, they may find that they cannot rally enough voters to support their cause after they stood silently by while an entire Southern culture was demolished.

Maryland’s Despot

(April 1, 2021) Maryland’s recent decision to abandon Maryland, My Maryland as its official state song shows how cancel culture deliberately misrepresents American history for political purposes. Although written in 1861 and officially adopted as the state song in 1939, only now does the state Senate vote unanimously to expunge it. They claim to be offended by lyrics such as:

The despot’s heel is on thy shore
His torch is at thy temple’s door
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore

Evidently, the senators only recently realized that the referenced “despot” is Lincoln. They fail to appreciate that retaining the song—instead of erasing it—is educational. It will, for example, prompt the insightful student to question why the state once considered America’s most admired President to be a tyrant.

After Lincoln’s April 15, 1861 call for 75,000 troops to force the seven cotton states back into the Union against their will, most the remaining Southern states that had earlier rejected secession reconsidered their decision. That’s because they questioned whether the Federal Government could constitutionally force any seceded state to return to a voluntary union. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas were among the states that concluded coercion was unconstitutional and consequently joined the Confederacy in a second secession wave.

At a special session that opened on 26 April, Maryland’s General Assembly also reconsidered her earlier rejection of secession. Although the new Assembly passed a resolution condemning Lincoln for violating the state’s sovereignty, it did not secede.  Instead, it adjourned on 7 August and agreed to reconvene again on 17 September.

After the Confederate victory at First Bull Run on 21 July, Southern sympathies gained influence in Maryland. Another Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek in Missouri on 10 August strengthened the impression that the Confederacy might win its independence. As a result, Lincoln worried that Maryland’s 17 September session of the General Assembly might either pass resolutions to aid the Confederacy or even vote to secede, notwithstanding a first-session resolution claiming that the Assembly lacked the authority to secede. (Like all politicians, undecided Maryland legislators were prone to align with the side that was apparently winning.)

Although Maryland voters had chosen their legislators in free elections, Lincoln concluded that his administration would determine which legislators would be allowed to attend the September Assembly. It instructed the Union Army to prevent representatives suspected of holding Confederate sympathies from participating. By earlier suspending habeas corpus—despite the action being overruled as unconstitutional by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—Lincoln enabled the Army to arrest, and hold, legislators thought to be pro-Confederate. Thirty-one were arrested. Others were deterred from attending the Assembly because they realized that if they tried to attend, they too might be arrested. Consequently, the 17 September session collapsed for want of a quorum.

While nobody can be certain that Lincoln’s usurpation prevented Maryland’s secession, at least one authoritative participant concluded that it did. Specifically, Assistant Secretary of State Fred Seward believed Maryland’s September General Assembly would have seceded if the Army had not arrested suspected Southern sympathizers. He not only participated in the arrest program but was also well-connected to top officials in Lincoln’s Administration. Fred was the son of Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Thus, the expurgation of Maryland’s state song erases history. It censors a poem that discloses tyrannical acts by America’s most beloved President. Without the song, such acts would be even more obscure than they are today. While such knowledge does not mean that Americans will reverse their opinion of Lincoln, but it will enable them to understand that he was not as squeaky-clean as legend represents.

Mostly, however, I suspect Maryland’s rejection of its state song is not an organic change of sentiment but is contrived. It is merely another example of pretended offense by narcissistic activists on behalf of an allegedly oppressed people who never really gave a damn about the lyrics. The result is to erase history in order to deliberately misrepresent it.

 

Ulysses Grant’s Corrupted Presidency

(March 30, 2021) Yesterday’s discussion about the political Ulysses Grant disclosed that his black voting and civil rights activism was self-serving. It targeted the single minority group that could be manipulated to keep Republicans in power by way of puppet carpetbag regimes in the South. He did nothing for other ethnic minorities such as Native-Americans, Chinese-Americans and even white immigrants such as the Irish. Grant even spent more money authorized by the KKK enforcement acts for so-called “supervision” of elections in the North than he did in the South. That was because white immigrants in the populous Northern cities tended to vote for Democrats. He, and fellow Republicans, increasingly abandoned Southern blacks as new organically Republican states entered the Union from the West. Beginning with Kansas in 1861 and ending with Utah in 1896, the first eleven states to join the Union after the start of the Civil War each added two new Republicans to the Senate.

Beyond its hidden racism, Grant’s Presidency was notoriously corrupt. During his eight years the in the White House the President’s cabinet seats consisted of six secretaries and an Attorney General. Four resigned for connections to various corruption scandals. The initial Vice President was booted from Grant’s re-election ticket for accepting bribes in connection to the Union Pacific railroad, which was receiving massive federal subsidies at the time. Grant’s personal secretary was charged with leading a group of treasury agents who were accepting bribes to enable distillers to evade excise taxes. Although not convicted, after a trial Grant banished the secretary to a job inspecting remote lighthouses. Similarly, Grant’s Navy Secretary avoided formal charges for sharing in the excess profits of a Navy Department supplier, but the wealth he acquired while in office left the public skeptical of his claims of innocence.  

Although Grant-apologists often assert he was personally honest and merely naïve in his choice of advisors, the claim ignores, or minimizes, two points. First, he and his wife  regarded the Presidency and a regal lifestyle as an entitlement for his role in winning the Civil War. Since they considered his salary to be too small, he would often reward financial benefactors with reciprocal appointments. Second, significant evidence suggests that he may have been directly involved in the distillery tax evasion scheme.

Regarding the first point. Between 1865 and 1869 inclusive, donors bought—or gave him enough money to buy—a total of four homes in Galena, Illinois, Philadelphia, Washington and Long Branch, New Jersey.

One of the seven donors for the President’s 27-room Long Branch “cottage” was Tom Murphy, a notorious supplier of shoddy merchandise to the Union army during the Civil War. Grant appointed Murphy as customs collector for the Port of New York where three-fourths of America’s tariffs were paid. It was the most lucrative patronage assignment available in the federal government. Money tended to stick to the fingers of the port’s tax collectors and administrators.

Similarly, Grant assigned General Daniel Butterfield to New York’s sub-treasury office in exchange for raising a fund enabling General William T. Sherman to buy Grant’s Washington home shortly before he moved into the White House. Since the money was a Grant-arranged windfall for Sherman the latter agreed to pay Grant a price that was more than double the amount the President-elect had paid only three years earlier. Soon after his appointment, Butterfield took a bribe to join Jay Gould’s attempted corner the gold market in September 1869. A Grant brother-in-law joined them.

The year before Grant became President, Henry Cooke of Maryland’s Seneca Sandstone Company, sold shares to influential Republicans at half-price. He planned to profit by supplying building materials to contractors in the District of Columbia. After Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, Cooke expected they would endorse a modernization program that would elevate the status of our nation’s capital with new buildings and public transportation structures. Among the bargain -priced stock buyers was General Ulysses Grant whose shares were valued at $20,000. The President sold them four years later, six months after appointing Cooke as D.C.’s Territorial Governor where he could help control public works spending in the District.

Henry’s brother was Jay Cooke, an investment banker who had been Grant’s largest political contributor for the President’s 1872 re-election campaign. Grant was having breakfast at Jay’s Philadelphia mansion the very morning that Cooke’s investment bank failed, triggering a financial panic and four-year economic depression. Jay Cooke & Company was chiefly capitalized with securities of the Northern Pacific railroad including federal subsidy bonds. After it emerged from bankruptcy, the Northern Pacific eventually collected federal land grants aggregating the size of the state of Missouri.   

Regarding the second point concerning possibilities that President Grant was personally corrupted, consider the Whiskey Ring scandal.

The episode enabled distillers to evade about two-thirds of the taxes they owned in exchange for bribes and campaign donations. It ended only because Grant felt compelled to appoint reform-minded Benjamin Bristow as Treasury Secretary two years into the President’s second term because Bristow’s predecessor had resigned in disgrace for unrelated tax collection improprieties. Ultimately Bristow’s investigation led to Grant’s personal secretary, Orville Babcock, who was indicted as a leading Ring participant involving hundreds of lower-level members. Regarding Babcock’s White House status General of the Army William T. Sherman once said, “…those who go to see the President see Babcock first. He is a kind of intermediator between the people and the President.”

Grant responded to the accusations against Babcock as follows:

  1. Since Babcock was an army officer as well as a personal secretary, Grant tried to get the investigation shifted to the Army. The President even went so far as to name the Babcock-friendly judge advocate (military prosecutor) as well as the equally Grant-pliable officers for the tribunal. The Justice Department prosecutor blocked the move by correctly replying that he could not send his evidence to the distant military tribunal because it was illegal to remove evidence from the court of jurisdiction. 
  2. Next, Grant hired a spy—at taxpayer expense—to infiltrate the prosecutor’s office and report everything he learned. The spy, however, eventually sided with the prosecutors after Babcock told him to destroy all the evidence he could find.
  3. After an assistant prosecutor suggested in his jury summation that the President had usurped Bristow’s authority when he blocked the Secretary’s order to replace a Treasury employee and suspected conspiracy leader, Grant instructed his Attorney General to fire the assistant.
  4. After the Babcock indictment, President Grant directed that his Attorney General no longer allow the prosecution team to arrange plea bargains with lower-level participants in exchange for testimony against those with higher status.
  5. After one of the convicted Treasury clerks was replaced, his replacement wrote future Supreme Court Justice John Harlan two days before Babcock’s trial began, “What has hurt Bristow worst of all & most disheartened him is the final conviction that Grant himself is in the Ring and knows all about [it.]”

If Grant was not guilty, he certainly acted a lot like Richard Nixon, or like Nixon might have acted. First, he hired a spy to infiltrate the prosecution office, much like Nixon’s plumbers. Second, he fired a prosecuting attorney for citing facts unfavorable to the President, which was similar to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. Third, he ordered his Attorney General to cease plea bargains because they would make higher level government employees more vulnerable to conviction.

While I don’t believe Grant’s statues or tomb should be torn down, those among the cultural elite who consider themselves to be paragons of morality may want reconsider their condemnation of Confederate statues.

Destroy Grant’s Tomb?

(March 29, 2021) Modern biographers and historians have deified Ulysses Grant as a civil rights hero and exemplary President. In truth, his civil rights advocacy was aimed at the solitary racial minority that could keep his Republican Party in power and the corruption during his presidency was monstrous. He did nothing for other ethnic minorities such as Native Americans, Chinese-Americans and Irish immigrants. Moreover, he abandoned the freedmen after he concluded that his Party could more likely remain in power by cutting them loose. 

Although today’s cultural elites believe that postbellum Republicans promoted black suffrage as a moral impulse, the chief objective was to create Republican-controlled vassal regimes in the South to keep the infant GOP in power in Washington by way of Carpetbag electors, senators and congressmen.  When the Civil War ended the Party was barely ten years old. It might have been strangled in its cradle if re-admittance of Southern states had not been manipulated in a way to prevent Southerners from allying with Northern Democrats to regain control of the federal government.

Consequently, Republicans settled on two goals. First was mandatory black suffrage in former Confederate states where inexperienced black voters could be directed to consistently support Republican interests. Second was to deny political power to the Southern white classes most likely to oppose Republicans. The latter was accomplished by disfranchising ex-Confederates through various federal and carpetbag state government actions.

As a result, in 1868 Republican presidential candidate Ulysses Grant won the election with only a minority of America’s white vote. Although he had a seemingly decisive 214 to 80 electoral vote margin, it hinged upon black votes and restrictions on ex-Confederates. In combination with the disfranchisement of former Confederates in Tennessee, Missouri, and West Virginia ex-slaves gave Grant 67 of his 214 electoral votes. Without those 67 votes, the 1868 election would have resulted in tie in the electoral college. Thus, black voting rights were considered a necessity for power-hungry Republicans.

Despite his modern reputation for civil rights activism, the experience of Grant’s second attorney general, Amos Akerman, suggests the President had a hidden agenda. Specifically, America’s railway industry may have led him to subvert the interests of Southern blacks to those of railroad moguls.

Akerman was the second of President Grant’s five attorneys general. He served a little over a year from November 1870 to December 1871. He was the most vigorous of Grant’s AGs in prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan. In order to expedite prosecutions, he expanded the powers of the then newly created federal Justice Department. About six hundred Klan members were convicted.

Grant, however, apparently revealed a secondary interest in racial justice when he abruptly asked Akerman to resign in December 1871. Partly at the prompting of Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, the President had misgivings about Akerman’s “obsession” with the Klan.  Perhaps more importantly, Akerman also frustrated important Northern capitalists. He was, for example, critical of the dubious terms under which railroads sometimes qualified for federal subsidies. In June 1871 he had denied land and bond grants to the Union Pacific Railroad.

Shortly before resigning Akerman confronted Grant’s previous attorney general, Ebenezer Hoar, when the latter was representing a railroad client’s land grant claims. Akerman told Hoar that the client had not completed the work required to qualify for the grants. Nearly simultaneously Interior Secretary Columbus Delano complained to Grant that Akerman had annoyed railroad moguls Collis Huntington and Jay Gould with unfavorable rulings. Whether at the urging of Fish, Delano, or Hoar, Grant replaced Akerman with Oregonian George Williams who later resigned under bribery accusations, as did Delano. The New York World reported in January 1872 that Williams’s appointment was essentially a triumph for the Pacific Railroads.  

The year after he became President, Grant signed the 1870 Naturalization Act, which preferentially favored blacks compared to other so-called nonwhites. Specifically, the Act allowed blacks born outside the USA to become citizens through the same naturalization process available to whites, but it did not permit Chinese-Americans and other nonwhites to utilize the process. For decades thereafter Chinese-American rights were far more restricted than those of whites, or even blacks. They could not, for example, become naturalized Citizens until 1943.

Although often praised for funding the KKK enforcement acts to protect Southern black voters, few historians realize that Grant spend most of the money to police elections in the big cities of the North where immigrants, such as the Irish, often voted for Democrats.

Ultimately the freedman’s loyalty to the Republican Party was not enough to sustain Grant’s interest in black civil rights. That became apparent during the autumn 1875 elections in Mississippi and Ohio. Grant twice turned down requests by Mississippi’s carpetbag governor to supply federal troops to police the polls on Election Day. But national sentiment was turning against federal interference in state affairs. Forty years later former black Republican Mississippi Congressman John Lynch revealed that Grant confessed to him in November 1875 that Ohio politicians told the President that Mississippi intervention would likely cause Republicans to lose Ohio. Basically, Grant traded a Republican victory in Mississippi for a bigger one in Ohio. Thereafter, the Republican Party steadily lost interest in Southern blacks. They did not need the black vote because the first 11 states that joined the Union after the start of the Civil War arrived with two new Republican senators each.

Despite a false reputation among hagiographers for sympathetic feelings toward Native-Americans, President Grant ignited an illegal war with the plains tribes in an attempt to lift the country out of an economic depression.  Coincident with the 1873 flood of white immigrants into the northern Great Plains, a collapse in railroad speculation sent the American economy into a tailspin. As it progressively weakened, Grant pondered how earlier gold discoveries in California and the Rocky Mountains had promptly energized America’s economy. Thus, in the summer of 1874 he sent a military expedition into the Black Hills of present-day South Dakota to investigate rumors of gold. Since the Hills were part of a Lakota Sioux reservation—officially off limits to white civilians—the expedition’s goal was falsely represented as a site search for a new military fort. 

Lieutenant-Colonel George Custer led the expedition into the Hills where they discovered modest, buttempting, quantities of gold. Soon the first rush of prospectors began showing up. Initially Grant made little effort to control the prospecting, but within a year he decided the government must acquire the Black Hills. When the Indian leaders summoned to Washington refused to relinquish the region, Grantended the meeting by informing them that they must either cede the Black Hills or risk losing their rations. They departed without an agreement.

Consequently, Grant contrived an excuse to start a war in order to justify seizing the Hills by force. He planned to provoke the small minority of Lakota living off their reservation in “un-ceded” lands where the Fort Laramie Treaty granted them hunting privileges. In November 1875 Grant called the general commanding the region and the commissioner of Indian affairs to a White House meeting. Together they prepared an ultimatum requiring the Indians to return to their reservations by January 31, 1876 or be declared hostile. In the dead of winter, it was an impossible demand.

The result was the famous Battle of the Little Big Horn, which resulted in the deaths of Lieutenant-Colonel Custer and about 300 cavalrymen. But the Indian victory was only temporary. Indian commission George Manypenny arrived at the Sioux reservation in September 1876 to practically dictate a settlement. He compelled the tribes to accept his terms by telling them that they would be moved to present-day Oklahoma, forfeit their firearms and horses, and no longer be supplied rations if they declined.  

Sioux descendants litigated the settlement well into the twentieth century. In 1980 the U. S Supreme Court awarded eight tribes $106 million in compensation for “a taking of tribal property,” but the Sioux refused it. The money has remained in escrow and grown to about $1 billion. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, a lower court judge wrote in 1975 of the Manypenny Agreement:  “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” (Source: Jeffrey Ostler, The Lakota’s and the Black Hills, Viking Publishers, 2010).

Although I do not personally believe that Grant statues should be torn down, in fairness, however, cancel culture warriors should consider his racism and other faults before continuing with the destruction of Confederate memorials.