Monthly Archives: November 2019

When Confederate Statues are Gone

(November 29, 2019) An excerpt from North Carolina author Robert Ruark’s best known novel reads: “If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them.”

Ruark grew up in Wilmington where he learned to hunt and fish with his grandfathers in the 1920s. He entered the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1931 at age fifteen. Ancestors on both sides of his family were Confederate soldiers.  This week the university threw away a part of its tradition when it defied a 2015 state law and banished the Silent Sam Confederate statue from any of the fourteen North Carolina counties that have a UNC campus.

What is the “something of value” that UNC will offer to replace the Confederate soldier’s valor? Its faculty and administration ceaselessly attack a fantastical network of “intersectional oppression;” a made-up world in which American minorities and women are systematically persecuted by evil white males. Unfortunately, UNC is not alone. Outside the hard sciences, most American universities have transformed into Soviet style re-education camps.

If a man throws away his customs, he better be certain he has something of value to replace them.

Student protestors at the College of the Holy Cross, for example, recently blocked access to a speech by conservative scholar Heather Mac Donald. Video obtained by The College Fix shows the demonstrators chant for nearly ten minutes “My oppression is not a delusion!” in response to MacDonald’s signature opinion that “American college students are among the most privileged people in the World.” 

What can we look forward to when the wicked fantasy system imagined by such deluded people is overturned? Will they, with their entitlement mentality, ever announce themselves free from victimhood? Can anyone imagine social justice warriors ever declaring “the war is over?” Will UNC’s Chief Diversity Officer ever agree that her job is done?

It will never happen.

Leftists at UNC and elsewhere are offering to replace freedom of speech with censorship and an endless stream of false accusations fueled by rage, envy and revenge. How many statues of other American heroes must be torn down after all the Confederate ones are gone? How much money will convince those who were never slaves to forgive the rest of us for sins we never committed? Will they ever realize that those who imagine themselves to be a perpetual victim can never be happy?

Feminists at UNC and elsewhere are even trying to erase the imagined unfairness in gender; the Act of God that necessarily assigns some differences in the roles for men and women required to perpetuate any successful society. According to feminists, males must become perpetual self-flagellating eunuchs as punishment for the fantasy of “toxic masculinity.” But what utopian perfection will result when feminists have convinced men to no longer bear the responsibilities of men and women to abandon the functions of women?

Since our traditions and customs have until recently yielded an America with unmatched freedom, wealth and power, we should never abandon them until they can be truly replaced with “something of value.” 

*

Learn more about Confederate valor by reading:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh

Today’s post is inspired by a recent Andrew Klavan monologue.

Sharpsburg’s Robert E. Lee Statue

(November 27, 2019) Earlier this year two Maryland Democratic congressmen introduced a bill to remove the pictured statue of Robert E. Lee from the Antietam National Battlefield Park. Although the bill has been stalled in the Republican-controlled Natural Resources Committee that has oversight of federal lands, few, if any, academic historians have publicly objected to the bill.  Evidently, most either believe it is proper to remove Confederate statues from national battlefield parks, or they’re too afraid of retribution from our politically correct culture to voice dissent.

Robert E. Lee statue at Sharpsburg battlefield on the grounds of Antietam Battlefield Park

One reason many academic historians may want Robert E. Lee statues to vanish is because the memory of Lee is an obstacle to their efforts to transform Ulysses Grant into a paragon of virtue. Fortunately books from Joseph Rose and Frank Varney are correcting the exaggerated evaluations of his military competence, while my own U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency is one that exposes his blundering selfishness as President. Nonetheless,  Steven Spielberg is preparing a Grant biopic to star Leonardo DiCaprio. When Hollywood gets involved, political correctness often takes charge of the narrative.

Be that as it may, Robert E. Lee’s statue should remain at Sharpsburg, and elsewhere. His leadership inspired the valor and victories against long odds of the soldiers under his command. Even today Lee and his men inspire accomplished military officers. Lieutenant-Colonel, and noted author, Ralph Peters has written: “As a serious student of the war and as a soldier, I have come to respect and honor the valor, skill and fortitude of the Confederate infantry—particularly those who served under Robert E. Lee.” Our country may once again hunger for the kind of leadership Lee provided.

First, during the Civil War Lee was undeniably the commander most beloved by the men in his army. This was most famously demonstrated at the Battle of the Wilderness. On the morning of May 6, 1864 the Confederates were in a desperate situation as their defense line was collapsing from a federal attack.  Lee felt the situation was hopeless until a reinforcing brigade of Texas and Arkansas troops—known as the Texas Brigade—arrived in the nick of time.

As the brigade began its successful counter attack Lee joined them and appeared intent on leading the charge on his horse Traveller. A number of  nearby soldiers noticed the general’s foolhardy intention and began to shout along the line, “Lee to the rear!” Some men pleaded with him directly, saying, “Go back, General Lee, go back.” A sergeant took hold of the Traveller’s reins to stop the horse. Prompted by such urgings, Lee turned back and rode off through cheering Confederate troops. “I thought him at that moment the grandest specimen of manhood I ever beheld,” one soldier who witnessed the event later recounted.

Second, while most generals would commandeer the home of a nearby resident for use as a headquarters (HQ) post, Lee normally slept in a tent. Soldiers on both sides were keenly aware of such conduct among their commanders. By contrast, General Grant established his HQ at the Widow Crisp’s house while his men slept under the February stars and snow at the Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee. Similarly, when his army was attacked by surprise two months later at Shiloh, Grant was sleeping at the Cherry Mansion where he had located his HQ ten miles from the federal troop encampments.

Third, rather than putting blame on others, which was common among defeated commanders during the war, Lee took full responsibility for his army’s first decisive defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. At the end of the month Lee wrote President Jefferson Davis, “No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me. . .  I alone am to blame.” A week later he offered to resign, but Davis turned him down.

After Lee’s desperate gamble to win on the third day at Gettysburg with Pickett’s Charge failed, he was seen by one of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s staff officers to be meeting the returning survivors, “It is all my fault. I take it all. Get together now men, we shall yet beat them.” The staff officer added, “I saw no man fail him.” A British observer saw Lee meet the survivors saying, “All this will come out right in the end, we’ll talk it over afterward, but in the meantime all good men must rally.” (He was anticipating a federal counter attack.) An officer in the First Virginia regiment heard Lee tell Pickett, “General, your men have done all that men can do. The fault is entirely my own.” As returning officers came to him he repeated over and over, “It is all my fault.” Such conduct is rare but infinitely valuable as an example to others.

Fourth, Lee was the best example of an army commander who consistently held the respect of both his soldiers and superiors. When Davis replied to Lee’s resignation offer after Gettysburg the President wrote, “To ask me to substitute you for someone in my judgement more fit to command is to demand an impossibility.” No other leader of a field army on either side persistently had such a symbiotic relationship with their superiors. Lee was respectful of his superiors without being submissive.

Fifth, in the last six months of the war when the Confederacy was considering the possibility of enlisting slaves into the army, Congress made little progress until a Virginia politician directly asked Lee for his opinion. On January 11, 1865 he replied, “We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves used against us, or use them ourselves at the risk of the effects which may be produced upon our social institutions [e.g. emancipation]. My own opinion is the we should employ them without delay.”

Two months later Congress passed a bill authorizing the enlistment of 300,000. President Davis stipulated that no black man could be enrolled under the Act unless he volunteered and was accompanied by manumission papers from his owner setting him free.

Sixth, after the war Lee urged fellow Southerners to accept the outcome. When the son of former Virginia Governor Henry Wise asked Lee if he should sign a federal parole, the general advised him to do so. When the son told his dad, the former Governor exclaimed, “You have disgraced the family!”

The youth replied, “But General Lee advised me to do it.”

“Oh,” said the governor. “That alters the case. Whatever General Lee says is all right.”

In sum, there were compelling reasons to honor Robert E. Lee with statues. They remain compelling for any American who respects the call of duty.

*

Learn about Robert E. Lee’s successes by reading:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh

Mr. Rogers or Confederate Statues?

(November 26, 2019) The post below borrows from Andrew Klavan’s monologue yesterday.

*

Whatever is happening to our young men will eventually happen to our country. If we train boys to be wimps, we’ll end up with a tyrannical government. That’s why I am not joining all of the excitement over the new movie about Mr. Rogers. To be sure, Mr. Rogers modeled decency and Christian values, which is good. But he also modeled a wrongheaded form of Christian manhood.

The Goal of Our Academic Historians

For those of you who don’t recall, The Mr. Rogers Show was absolutely intolerable to anyone over three years old. The Christ who threw the moneychangers out of the temple and faced down the full power of the ruling authorities, was not the meek and mild character exemplified by Mr. Rogers.

Instead our nation should find a different model. One that would inspire its young men to principled virility so that they, and the women they protect, can propagate a free and productive society. Perhaps author and Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters has identified one:

The myth of Johnny Reb as the greatest infantryman happens to be true. Not only the courage and combat skill, but the sheer endurance of the Confederate foot soldier may have been equaled in a few other armies over the millennia, but none could claim the least superiority. . . [T]he physical toughness, fighting ability and raw determination of those men remains astonishing.

The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of bravery, not slavery. I’m a Yankee, born and bred, and my personal sympathies lie with the Northern cause . . . To me, though, that red flag with the blue St. Andrews cross strewn with white stars does not symbolize slavery—that’s nonsense—but the stunning bravery of those who fought beneath it.

If Peters is correct, our politicians should not be tearing down Confederate statues. They are destroying symbols of valor that represent the type of men America will need if she is to avoid a government that will marginalize freedom, rule with an iron fist from Washington and tell us how to think. The crumpled statue pictured above illustrates the tyranny that our young men learn from professional historians. Even the politician who doubts that Peters is correct should not reflexively yield to academic zeitgeist but instead pause to consider, “He who marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”

Those wanting to protect Confederate symbols may wish to read the speech I made last summer in their defense. Should any group wish me to make the speech in person, please contact me in the comments section.

*

To learn more about Confederate valor read:

Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh

Arguing the Southern Tariff Case

(November 25, 2019) Those wishing to argue that America’s protective tariffs partially caused the Civil War, consider the following:

One. Since tariffs represented 90% of federal revenues in 1860, significant regional policy differences were certain to be contentious.

Two. Although a popular claim among the ill-informed, it’s erroneous to assert that the South paid the majority of tariffs. On the eve of the Civil War the fifteen slave states had only 39% of America’s population. It’s likely they paid no more than that proportional share.

Three. Focus the argument on protective tariffs, which were outlawed by the Confederate Constitution.  Understand that there were two types of tariffs: revenue and protective.

A revenue tariff is designed to raise revenue and not intended to protect any domestic industry. Coffee is a classic example of a revenue tariff item. It is not produced in any state but consumed in all of them. In contrast, a protective tariff is deliberately written to protect a domestic producer. Any tax revenue it may provide is secondary. The antebellum tariffs on iron products and finished textiles were good examples of protective tariffs. They chiefly benefitted New England’s textile makers and the iron makers in Pennsylvania and other Northern states.

Since protective tariffs were not designed to raise revenue, new ones sometimes caused tariff revenues to drop. In fact, the hypothetical optimal protective tariff results in no tariff collections on the protected item because it prevents competitive imports from entering the U.S. market. The steep schedules of the 1842 Black Tariff were so protectionist, for example, that they forced a sharp decline in 1843 imports.

Four. Protective tariffs cost the Southern economy much more than the actual tariff duties the region paid.

In 1860 America’s total tariff collections were $53 million, of which the slave states paid about $21 million (39%). In contrast, they purchased goods and services from Northern manufacturers amounting to $200 – $400 million, much of it tariff-protected or related to the international cotton trade centered in New York.*

Five. Northern protective tariffs caused European textile makers to seek non-American sources of cotton feedstock. The Europeans eventually found such sources in Egypt, India, West Africa, and Brazil.

Modern historians generally fail to consider the adverse impact of protective tariffs on American cotton exports, which totaled about 75% of the crop. The dominant buyers were Great Britain and France, which typically obtained the exchange credits needed to buy American cotton by selling finished manufacture goods into the United States.  But high protective tariffs made it difficult for European manufactures to sell their goods competitively into the USA. When Congress increased tariffs a month before the Fort Sumter crisis, one American diplomat in England wrote: “That measure has done more than any commissioner from the Southern republic could do to alienate the feelings of the English public toward the United States.”

Six. Critics who cite the preponderance of slavery in some of the Southern states’ declaration of causes for secession are wrongly equating the reasons for secession with the reasons for war.

They fail to consider that Northerners could have let the initial seven cotton states secede in peace as many leaders such as Horace Greeley, Edwin Stanton and future President Rutherford Hayes were willing to do. There was no danger that the South would invade the North. War came only after the North decided to invade the initial seven cotton states.  Thus, discovering the war’s causes requires an analysis of the North’s reasons for coercing the South back into the Union instead of the reasons the South seceded. The true goal that prompted Northerners to invade the South was to avoid the economic consequences of disunion.

Seven. Chief among such consequences to the Northern states was the loss of the Southern market for tariff-protected Northern manufactured goods. A related threat was a potential need to reduce the duty rates on protected items as lower-priced competitive goods entering the Confederacy encouraged other states to join the new republic.

Since the Confederate constitution outlawed protective tariffs, her lower tariffs would confront the remaining states of the truncated Union with two consequences. First, the federal government would lose tax revenue since articles imported into the Confederacy would divert tariff revenue from the North to the South. Second, and even more importantly, a low Confederate tariff would cause Southerners to buy more manufactured goods from Europe as opposed to the Northern states where prices were inflated by protective tariffs.

Eight. The above chart illustrates that securing high tariffs was an important reason why the North refused to let the South leave peacfully. As compared to only 19% before the war, tariffs on dutiable items averaged 45% for about fifty years thereafter despite persistent Southern efforts to reduce them. A year after the war when the defeated South desperately needed to rebuild her railroads, for example, rail iron sold for $80 a ton in New York but only $32 in England.**

In sum, it’s ineffective to focus on how much of the tariff the South paid, and better to concentrate on the adverse economic impact of protective tariffs on the South. Except for a brief hiatus during Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency, protective tariffs lasted nearly until World War II.  After that war, the manufacturing economies of the states north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers had no other overseas competitors since the economies of Europe and Asia had been wrecked. As a result, U.S. policy at long last shifted toward free trade because it benefitted Northerners.

*Gene Dattel, Cotton and Race in the Making of America, (Lanham, Md. Ivan R. Dee, 2009), 86; Thomas Kettell, Southern Wealth and Northern Profits, (New York: GW & JA Wood, 1860), 74-75
**Ira Tarbell, The Tariff in our Times, (Norwood, Mass.: Macmillan, 1911), 31

*

Learn more about the best interval of Confederate history:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh

If Men Were Angels

(November 24, 2019) The Constitution’s chief architect, James Madison, wrote in 1788, “If angels were to govern men . . . [no] controls on government would be necessary.” Since men are not angels, Madison concluded that our Constitution must provide checks to limit the central government’s power.  That’s why it has three branches. It’s also why the first ten amendments were a Bill of Rights to protect minorities against the tyranny of a mere 51% democracy.

About forty years later protective tariffs increased to an average of 55% between 1825 to 1830. Since the Constitution required tariffs to originate in the House of Representatives where Northern congressmen increasingly outnumbered Southerners, the South was disadvantaged. The three branch system had failed to protect the South against the abuse of tariffs crafted to benefit Northerners. Consequently, the United States ignored the South’s need for Free Trade and large export market in which her cotton could be exchanged for British manufactured goods. The North had decided to use their superior, and growing, relative voting power to forever marginalize the economic interests of the South.

John C. Calhoun

Although the right of secession was then everywhere taken for granted as the ultimate check on federal power,* South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun sought a less drastic check. His answer was the doctrine of nullification, which was based upon James Madison’s earlier principle of “interposition.” In the 1798 Virginia Resolutions against President John Adams’s anti-immigrant and anti-free-speech Sedition Acts, Madison explained that the Constitution he mostly wrote gave the states the “right” and “duty” to protect their interests and arrest the evils of a tyrannical federal government by unilaterally blocking unconstitutional federal laws within their borders. Nullification was an evolved form of interposition.

Calhoun’s nullification critics immediately replied that it would create anarchy should states recklessly nullify laws they did not like. In reply, Calhoun argued that nullification was merely an appeal. The non-nullifying states could amend the Constitution to embed the offending law into the Constitution by obtaining a three-fourths majority of all states. If the states, he argued, were not the judges of legality, who then was to judge the actions taken by the federal government? He rejected the popular answer of the Supreme Court because the Court was itself a creature of the federal government. It was, therefore, unfit to judge between the rights of the sovereign states and the federal government because it would tend to favor the central government, as indeed happened over the ensuing 220 years.

Although Calhoun’s arguments went further than Madison intended,** they effectively prompted President Andrew Jackson and Congress to give proper consideration to the Southern minority’s need for limits on the ability for an arithmetic majority to impose ever higher national tariffs injurious to the South. The 1832 South Carolina Nullification Crisis ended when Congress approved a compromise tariff in exchange for giving President Jackson authority to militarily force South Carolina to collect the compromise tariffs. In 1833 South Carolina repealed its nullification act.

Even though John C. Calhoun is popularly condemned as a slavery apologist, he was also a champion of minority rights. Even today a movement is underway to “arrest” (as Madison put it) the evils of constantly expanding federal intrusion.

* Christopher Hollis, The American Heresy, (New York: Minton, Balch & Company, 1930), 94-5
**See “Nullification: Two Definitions” on page 9

*

Learn about the Confederacy’s most successful interval by reading:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh

Let Them Leave in Peace

(November 23, 2019) As noted in earlier posts, popular historians who currently conclude that Northerners were blameless for the Civil War often fail to consider that the Yankees could have let the initial seven-state Confederacy depart in peace. Instead most historians are on an agenda driven mission to tar Southerners with the shame of slavery while portraying Northerners as the angels of “deliverance.”

William Marvel, who has written a four volume history of the war from the Northern viewpoint, is an exception. Although not affiliated with any academic institution he has won the Lincoln Prize, The Douglas Freeman Award, and the Bell Award. Provided below are edited excerpts from the preface of Mr. Lincoln Goes to War, which is the first of his four volume history.

*

The refusal to weigh actions and events against some measure other than what they actually wrought leaves the historian functioning too much like an annalist and too little like an analyst. The practice has led to a near unanimous agreement that the Civil War yielded the most desirable result, and the principal beneficiary of that interpretation has been Abraham Lincoln.

He insisted on coercing the seceded states back into the Union even if it meant blatantly violating the Constitution. In arrogating such extraordinary authority to the executive branch he created precedents that permanently jeopardized the liberty the Constitution promised to all Americans.

 

Having been liberated from antiquated ideology about race and slavery, the modern historian finds it irresistible to condemn Southerners because of their obnoxious institution. The byproduct of the war, emancipation, has come to dominate the memory of the conflict so thoroughly that nobody sees the contradiction of establishing a federal power to impose universal involuntary military service as a means for ending involuntary servitude (i.e. slavery). If that anachronistic appreciation can be suspended, the question becomes one of constitutionality.

Let us suppose there were no grounds for secession. If it was unconstitutional, did the opponents of secession have the right to combat it with equally unconstitutional measures? Was the president’s response any less illegal than the secessionists, merely because his excesses followed theirs chronologically? Was it wise to meet secession with extralegal force? Was the preservation of the national borders worth the precedent of the chief executive unilaterally initiating warfare, arbitrarily suspending civil liberties, jailing thousands on political whim, using the military to manipulate elections, and even overthrowing the legitimate governments of some states [Maryland and Missouri?] Were the infringements even necessary? Did the permanent weakening of America’s best protection against tyranny—the Constitution—not exceed the violence that secession did to it, and might the Constitution have survived in firmer health with the remaining twenty-seven states adhering to it more strictly?

Would the bifurcation of the United States have been worse than the war waged to prevent it? After the required nod to emancipation, the instinctive reply asserts that secession would have “Balkanzied” North America. But might not a continent composed of smaller states have been preferable? Disunion would have made slavery a divisive issue only in the Confederacy rather than in the United States. Had Lincoln been able to foresee the harvest of death his choices would yield, he might understandably have opted against the carnage and accepted the departure of the seven fractious provinces in return for a smaller but more peaceable federation.

Although the Southern’s tempest over the innocuous coastal forts would likely have subsided if the Confederate leadership had simply ignored them, it was Lincoln who finally eschewed diplomacy and sparked a confrontation. Even though he avoided the political blunder of firing the first shot, he backed himself into a corner that required him to mobilize a national army, thereby fanning the embers of Fort Sumter into a full-scale conflagration. Lincoln’s misjudgments of 1861 are presently overshadowed in public memory by the results of 1865, which seem to validate his earlier decisions, but those ancillary results do not diminish the essential recklessness of his actions.

*

Learn more about the Civil War by reading:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh