Monthly Archives: June 2019

Good Reforms in Confederate Constitution

(June 28, 2019) All that most academic historians want their students to know about the Confederate Constitution is that it expressly protected slavery: “No . . . law denying the right of property in the Negro shall be passed.”

But the people who wrote it had lived under the U. S. Constitution. They knew the latter’s strengths, which they tried to copy, and its weaknesses, which they tried to eliminate. Mostly they wanted to avoid a concentration of power in the central government by maximizing the rights and responsibilities of the states and limiting those of the confederation’s government. Thus, the 1861 Confederate Constitution is basically a reformed version of the U.S. Constitution, although a more complete analysis is available here.

During the preceding seventy-two years the Confederate founders had watched as the U. S. Federal government became manipulated by crony capitalists who persuaded their representatives to increase the central government powers in order that it may subsidize the capitalists. Northern states wanted the Federal government to fund speculative public works, then known as internal improvements, that the states themselves avoided due the financial risk. Southerners felt that such programs should be funded by private enterprise or the states themselves.

Consequently, the Confederate Constitution outlawed internal improvements except for limited programs involving harbors and rivers that would be repaid by user fees. It also dropped the “general welfare” clause in the U. S. Constitution’s taxing authority, which Northerners increasingly used as an open gate for many types public spending programs. The “general welfare” clause continues to be abused with the result that America’s budget deficits today are out of control. The Confederate constitution authorized taxes for only three purposes:  military defense, government operating expenses, or to repay debts.

Additionally, only the President could normally put bills before the Confederate Congress. This was to prevent representatives from introducing pork-barrel projects. All bills had to state the amount of money required and the title had to identify the object of the spending. This basically eliminated omnibus spending bills. Cost overruns were not allowed. The minority of bills that might originate in Congress would require a two-thirds majority vote of each house to be enacted. If adopted by America today, this single provision would eliminate much of our wasteful spending.

Similarly, Northern states prevailed upon the federal government for high protective tariffs to immunize their manufacturers from overseas competition. Southerners opposed the tariffs for two reasons. First, they had almost no manufacturers. Second, protective tariffs interfered with the ability of Europeans to generate the exchange credits needed to buy Southern farm goods because it reduced the Europeans’ sales of manufactured goods into the American market.

As a result, the Confederate Constitution outlawed protective tariffs. Although ordinary “revenue” tariffs would fund the Confederacy’s operations, no duties could be used to “promote or foster any branch of industry.” Other business subsidies, such as bounties that New England fishermen had been collecting in the U. S. A., were also outlawed.

The Confederate founders were additionally concerned about bureaucratic creep, which could lead to a tyrannical central government in the form of a deep-state of career administrators. Consequently, each state could impeach a Federal (Confederate) official operating exclusively in their state by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the applicable state’s legislature. Such officials would be tried by the C. S. A. Senate, with a two-thirds vote required for conviction.

Another safeguard against a too-powerful central government was a stipulation that constitutional amendments could only originate with the states. Although they could not be introduced in Congress any three states could form a convention to propose new amendments.

Finally, each President was limited to a single six-year term. As another measure to minimize pork-barrel spending, he was granted line item veto powers.

Contrary to the arguments of most modern historians that the Civil War was “all about” slavery, the constitutional provisions noted above show that the Confederate founders had big concerns about the powers of the central government. They also showed that states’ rights were one way Southerners intended to limit such powers. Thus, historians now claiming that Southerners only mentioned states’ rights as a war issue after the the South already lost the War are wrong. Such rights had been a major consideration from the beginning.

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Which was the Moral Side in the Civil War?

(June 26, 2019) Eric Hoffer once wrote, “Mass movements can rise and spread without the belief in a God but never without the belief in a devil.”

Thus, the conventional Civil War narrative portrays the Southerner as a devil who fought to keep slavery and the Northerner as an avenging angel who destroyed it. Originating as a mass movement among historians who came-of-age during the 1960s Civil Rights era the interpretation has escalated to include an intolerance toward Confederate and Southern symbols. Dr. Don Livingston’s lecture in the YouTube video below argues that it as a false narrative created to deflect attention from the North’s true motive of conquest for the control of continental resources. Lincoln’s war was in sequence with Europe’s unification wars under Cavour, Bismarck and Lenin.

It was a brutal war to deny independence to the Southern states. Including civilians, Civil War deaths may have totaled one million, which would equate to ten million given today’s population.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure, which Lincoln confessedly adopted as an attempt to turn the tide of war that had been running against him. It made no allowance to provide for the slaves that came into Union lines. They were herded into what might arguably be called the first modern concentration camps. Death and disease overran the unhealthy camps. Shortly after the end of the war Mississippi’s provisional Union Governor, William Starkey, testified to Congress that one-third of the state’s blacks had died of disease, starvation and the dislocations of war.

Although the Confederacy offered only a limited form of Emancipation late in the war to blacks who would volunteer as soldiers, Dr. Livingston notes two extenuating points. First, both the Federal and Confederate Emancipation plans were war measures designed to counter military reversals. As such, Lincoln deserves no more moral credit than does Davis. Second, the Confederate plan would result in a bigger social reformation.

Lincoln’s Emancipation was not designed to integrate Blacks into Northern society. To the contrary, it was expected to keep them in the South. Notwithstanding a tradition of abolitionism, during the war New England’s governors declined to accept Black refugees thereby forcing the ex-slaves to remain in the disease-ridden contraband camps.  Those Blacks who joined the Union army were racially segregated and White Federal troops often despised them.

In contrast, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee intended to treat Black volunteers as equals. On March 25, 1865 President Jefferson Davis issued General Order Number 14 stipulating how the Blacks would be recruited, which is excerpted below:

No slave will be accepted as a recruit unless with his own consent and with the approbation of his master by a written instrument conferring, as far as he may, the rights of a freedman . . .

All [White] officers . . . are enjoined to a provident, considerate, and humane attention to whatever concerns the health, comfort, instruction, and discipline of those [Black] troops, and to the uniform observance of kindness, forbearance, and indulgence to their treatment of them, and especially that they will protect them from injustice and oppression.

General Robert E. Lee planned to integrate Black units with White units from the same state and even the same locality if possible. This would create a new civic bond between Blacks and Whites who would have the same experience in defending their homes and regions from invasion. Special efforts should be made, said Lee, to “conciliate Black recruits.” They must “be made to forget . . . their former condition and strict orders should be given as to their treatment. They should be placed on the same footing as [White] soldiers with their freedom secured.”

Finally, Blacks and Whites were not integrated in Northern society because Blacks represented less than one percent of the population in the free states as compared to forty percent in the eleven Confederate states. In contrast, Blacks were an integral part of Southern society, although a subordinate one. Thus, Black Confederate soldiers would advance to a higher social status once they were freed, yet they would remain in the same integrated society. This could result in a more progressive cultural reformation as compared to the regional segregation and political manipulation of Blacks that characterized Republican Reconstruction.

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Republican Racism and Emancipation

(June 25, 2019) Before Abraham Lincoln announced the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 Congress appointed a special investigative committee. Since emancipation might require funding, the Republican-controlled committee was organized in the House of Representatives where revenue bills can originate. When the committee released its report on July 16, 1862 it recommended a $20 million appropriation to facilitate voluntary emigration of blacks. Contrary to popular belief the report makes it clear that Republicans were chiefly interested in ending slavery in order to keep  blacks out of those parts of the country where they were only a small minority. Examples include the federal territories and the “free” states.

The report explained that the biggest objections to emancipation arose from “a large portion of our [Northern] people to the intermixture of the races and from the association of white and black labor. The Committee would do nothing to favor such a policy . . . [T]he presence of a race among us who cannot, and ought not, be admitted to our social and political privileges will be a perpetual source of injury. . . to both.

The “most formidable difficulty [confronting] emancipation [is] the belief . . . [especially among non-slaveholders] . . . that if the negroes shall become free, they must still continue in our midst, and, so remaining, they may in some measure be made equal to the Anglo-Saxon race. The Anglo-American will never give his consent that the negro shall be elevated to such equality. . . The highest interest of the white race, whether Anglo-Saxon, Celt or Scandinavian, require that the whole country be held and occupied by those races alone.” (Italics added).

The committee report prompted President Lincoln to meet with a group of five black leaders in August to urge that they promote colonization among their race. “You and we,” said Lincoln, “are of different races. We have existing between us broader differences than exist between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.”

Although Lincoln’s 1860 Republican Party platform included a plank to outlaw slavery in the federal territories, its real goal was to reserve the territories for whites. This is implied not only in the House committee report but also in the words of abolitionist Horace Greeley, “All the unoccupied territories of the United States, and such as it may hereafter acquire, shall be reserved for the white caucasian race, a thing that cannot be except by excluding slavery.”

Similarly, as a younger politician Lincoln identified with the policies of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay including Clay’s black colonization program to remove “the troublesome presence of the free negroes” from the country. The Illinois state constitution forbade free blacks from moving into the state. Those that were already present were not citizens, could not vote, testify in court against whites or serve on a jury in a case involving whites. Lincoln never voiced any objections to those black codes.

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Civil War PC is Mental Imprisonment

(June 23, 2019) Each of us tends to be a prisoner of our own experience. In a World with billions of people, we experience only a tiny part. Thus, we rely upon our imaginations to complete a mental picture that results in our “worldview,” meaning our personal conception of the World. Moreover, our imaginations are fed by the narratives we learn from academics, the media, and Hollywood.  Too often their stories are corrupted by political correctness. As a result, political correctness is a euphemistic term for mental imprisonment.

When valid, but politically incorrect, ideas are censored our worldview becomes distorted by the omission. Unfortunately, political correctness is used as a weapon to impose such mental imprisonment by silencing dissenting voices. Cultural censorship is easily attained with ad hominem attacks using code words such as racist, white nationalist, white supremacist, neo-Confederate, Lost Causer, and even Southerner. Today’s example comes from The New York Times.

Yesterday The Times published an article titled: “What Should Happen to Confederate Statues?” Among its remarks were the following:

Many Confederate statues being debated today did not originate during the Civil War era, when Southerners built obelisks in cemeteries and other tributes with themes of mourning. The towering figures of individual soldiers and monuments in public squares generally came later, historians say, during the rise of Jim Crow laws and subsequently during a backlash against desegregation.

“That is when you are simultaneously seeing the dedication of these monuments,” said Christy Coleman, the chief executive of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Va. “They are not separate things. They are a reassertion of the ideal.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) originated that bogus narrative when they released the chart below. While it documents that the vast majority of the “towering figures of individual soldiers and monuments in public squares” were erected between 1900 and 1920, the SPLC falsely attributes the surge to white supremacy and Jim Crow. Only someone mentally imprisoned by political correctness could reach such a conclusion for four reasons.

First, and foremost, the period coincided with the war’s semi-centennial when veterans were dying off. A twenty-one year old who went to war in 1861 was sixty years old in 1900 and eighty in 1920. Second, the same factor caused the number of Union soldier statues erected to swell during the same era. Presumably, Jim Crow and white supremacy cannot explain the Union statue-building. Third, the South was too impoverished for decades after the war to financially afford memorials like those that Northerners had been building for years in honor of their Civil War heroes. Notwithstanding its population growth, the South did not recover to its of pre-war economic activity level until 1900. Fourth, Jim Crow was not isolated to 1900 – 1920. It extended for years on either side of the interval.

When The Times attributes the second minor surge of Rebel monument building during the 1960s to “a backlash against segregation” it overlooks the fact that the early 1960s coincided with the Civil War Centennial. Although the United States Post Office issued five Civil War commemorative stamps between 1961 and 1965, only  an imprisoned mind could believe that the Office was motivated by “a backlash against segregation.”

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A Prominent Northerner Opines on the UDC

(June 22, 2019) Presently, most modern historians of the Civil War and Reconstruction revile few organizations more than the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Historically, the association was responsible for erecting many of the Confederate statues and memorials that still stand across the South. But at least some leading Northerners with “more skin in the game” than today’s cloistered academics had more favorable opinions of the UDC.

One example was Ulysses S. Grant III (1881 – 1968) who was the grandson of the General and President.

January 11, 1913
Mrs. Alexander B. White
President, United Daughters of the Confederacy

Shortly after the [UDC meeting in Washington] I had occasion to visit the Capitol and was much touched to notice that your society had placed a wreath . . . on the statue of my grandfather, General and President Grant. Such a gracious and graceful act . . . deserves sincere gratitude and I offer you my own thanks from a full heart.

I am sure that nothing would give my grandfather greater comfort and happiness, were he still with us, than to know of your tribute to his memory and to realize his wish for peace and goodwill among Americans has found public recognition in the act of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I must beg you to express to the other members of your association the deep appreciation that a grandson must feel.

Very Respectfully Yours
U. S. Grant, III
Captain, Corps of Engineers
United States Army

Grant III was four years old when his grandfather died. He graduated sixth in the West Point Class of 1903, which included Douglas McArthur as the top graduate. He retired from the army at the end of World War II.

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Common Sense is not so Common

(June 21, 2109) Although not mentioned in the episode posted yesterday, podcaster Scott Adams properly observes that anyone claiming President Trump’s “very fine people” remark in Charlottesville applied to the white supremacist demonstrators lacks basic common sense. Any level-headed observer realizes that nobody—nobody—elected to the office of President of the United States in 2016 would portray violent white supremacists as “very fine people.” Since the transcripts and videos prove that Trump’s comment related to those on both sides of the Robert E. Lee statue debate, and specifically excluded the violent supremacists, anyone believing otherwise either failed to examine the original source or is a liar. Anyone spreading a false claim should be condemned, but anybody propagating one that contradicts common sense is likely to be denounced and ridiculed.

The principle applies to both the opponents and supporters of Confederate heritage. Unfortunately, too often some supporters make claims that contradict commons sense, thereby greatly damaging their case. In order to document the tariff as a key bone of contention, for example, some falsely assert that Southerners paid 75% of federal tariffs notwithstanding that the eleven Confederate states had only 30% of America’s population in 1860. Apparently, the claim is based upon an 1828 speech by Senator Thomas Hart Benton, which was thirty-three years before the war started in 1861. Moreover, Benton’s 75% figure was based upon a combination of tariffs paid and his debatable estimates of the reciprocally reduced prices received for Southern exports when purchased abroad.

There is no need for such exaggeration. High tariffs as an important Northern war aim is more directly and indisputably documented in the table below. Before the war dutiable item tariffs averaged 19%, but during the next fifty years they averaged 45%. In short, the Republican winners of the war imposed their will on tariffs until Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1912. Moreover, after Wilson left office tariffs went back up again. America did not truly become a free trade advocate until after World War II when the industrial states north of the Potomac and Ohio rivers had no competition from anywhere in the World. After the economies of Europe and Asia had been wrecked by a World War, the Yankees had everything to gain and nothing to lose (so they thought) by a Worldwide free trade environment.

Unfortunately, common sense is not so common.

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