Undeniable Truths <br> As I see it: June 2010


Pestiferous Carpetbag Ulcers

After crushing the political liberty of Americans in the South militarily, the victorious North sent adventurers to subvert and control State elections, using corrupt local political sycophants to ensure loyalty to the Republican regime in Washington. Anyone elected with the consent of the governed was quickly replaced with someone more acceptable to the regime. To read more of Milton Littlefield, see “Prince of Carpetbaggers,” Jonathan Daniels, J.B. Lippincott, 1958.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Pestiferous Carpetbag Ulcers:

“With only a ninth of the South’s population, North Carolina had furnished a fifth of all the soldiers who fought, and a fourth of all that died in action. In that dying, the South learned a bitter but important lesson. It is possible to believe in a cause strongly, fight for it heroically – and lose.

The days of heroism were definitely past; valor had given way to venality. The very methods and conditions of warfare had obliterated the ideas for which it had been waged. There is as little chance of discovering high idealism in post-war generations as there is in finding a high sense of tragedy in an undertaker. Facing death is one thing. Disposing of corpses is another.

In North Carolina the State debt had soared in a few years from sixteen to forty million dollars. President Andrew Johnson, himself a native of Raleigh had appointed William Holden provisional governor. Pandora’s box was open.

By repudiating all past State debt, the 1865 Convention wrought havoc with colleges, banks, and all who held State bonds. When an angry citizenry voted to make Jonathan Worth, rather than Holden, governor, Northerners took this as a sign of continuing disloyalty. Organizing carpetbaggers and Negroes, the Republicans reinstated Holden.

The 1868 State convention saw one hundred and seven Republican run roughshod over the thirteen Democrats…[and] Corruption was most blatant in education and railroads. In the year of Lee’s visit [1870], State schools received only $38,000 of the $136,000 allotted to them. George Swepson, [scalawag] president of the Western North Carolina Railroad, paid [former Northern General] Milton Littlefield $240,000 to influence the legislature.

Later on Holden would be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” found guilty and removed from office. Staunch Republican H.R. Helper admitted: “One of the greatest evils affecting society in North Carolina is the incompetent and worthless State and federal officials now in power. They are for the most part pestiferous ulcers feeding upon the body politic.”

(Lee After the War, Marshall W. Fishwick, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1963, pp. 187-189)


Washington College Was Not Spared:

It is with great difficulty today that we realize the cause of the wanton desolation in Virginia was simply the decision to no longer associate with the Northern States in a fraternal and federated Union. Once the Virginians bowed obedience to central authority, their homes would not be burned – but the threat of the troops return would hang over their heads should their thoughts turn again to independence. It is noteworthy that the Lexington College desecrated by Northern soldiers below was the one General George Washington made a generous gift of canal stock to, and the grateful recipients changed the name of Liberty Hall Academy to Washington Academy in 1798, and to Washington College in 1813.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Washington College Was Not Spared:

“But no one could hide the scars of the recent struggle. “The whole country from the Blue Ridge to the North Mountain has been made untenable for a rebel army,” Sheridan had informed Washington. If a crow wanted to fly across the area, he would have to carry rations. Trees were down. Fields were gutted. Fences, mills, barns, bridges, crops and stock had been destroyed. Instead of wheat, corn, and barley, the fields were overrun with briars, nettles and weeds.

The fields could be improved in a season; the people’s tempers and bitterness not for generations. Sectional antagonism went back far before the war. “We do not set any claims to public spirit in the matter of internal improvement,” a Rockbridge County historian admitted as early as 1852, “and are shamefully content to let all the glory that appertains there go to the go-ahead Yankees.” When the Yankees laid waste to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginians turned from sarcasm to denunciation.

People did not quickly forget the fate of towns like Scottsville, where every shop, mill and store was burned. Canal locks were dismantled. Records and books were wantonly scattered. The little town lay in its blackened pall, a returning soldier wrote “like a mourner hopelessly weeping.” If the small towns were bad, the cities were worse. The closest major city to Lexington was Lynchburg, a transportation and manufacturing center fifty-four miles to the southeast. In 1865, life there was paralyzed. Stores were vacant. The tobacco business was ruined. Property everywhere declined in value. The occupying soldiers were a rowdy, rough and drunken set. Robberies occurred nightly.

Sixteen months before General Lee came to Lexington alone, [Northern] General David Hunter had come – with an army. His orders were to…destroy all supplies and burn all houses within five miles of the spot where resistance occurred….on June 6, 1864, Hunter took Staunton and headed for Lexington…crossed the bridge and burned the Virginia Military Institute, and looted the area. Annie Broun echoed the natives reaction in the helpless undefended town: “Can I say “God forgive him?” Were it possible for human lips to raise his name heavenward, angels would thrust the foul thing down again. The curses of thousands will follow him through all time, and brand upon the name Hunter infamy, infamy.”

Atop the bluff near the river stood the charred and blackened ruins of the “West Point of the South” – Virginia Military Institute. Along the streets were piles of rubble and brick. At the edge of town stood Washington College, desecrated and silent. Planks were nailed over smashed windows. Obscenities were scribbled on the walls.”

(Lee After the War, Marshall W. Fishwick, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1963, pp. 67-77)

In June 1864, during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, Union general David Hunter entered Lexington and ransacked the college.
(Encyclopedia Virginia)


Southern Terms of Reunion:

he unofficial peace overtures of mid-1864 coming through leading citizens of the North to Confederate officials in Toronto and Niagara Falls led to much speculation, but all saw that the obstacle to peace was in Lincoln himself. Backed by a fanatical war party and hands already dripping with the blood of so many, Lincoln would never agree to Americans in the South determining their own form of free government, and with the consent of the governed.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Southern Terms of Reunion:
“We never proposed, suggested or intimated any terms of peace, to any person, that did not embrace the independence of the Confederate States. We have not dispelled the fond delusion of most of those with whom we have conversed, that some kind of common government might at some time hereafter be re-established. But we have not induced or encouraged this idea.

On the contrary, when obliged to answer the question – “Will the Southern States consent to reunion?” – I have answered, “Not now. You have shed so much of their best blood, have desolated so many homes, inflicted so much injury, caused so much physical and mental agony, and have threatened and attempted such irreparable wrongs, without justification or excuse, as they believe, that they would now prefer extermination to your embraces as friends and fellow citizens of the same government. You must wait till the blood of our slaughtered people has exhaled from the soil, till the homes which you have destroyed have been rebuilt, till our badges of mourning have been laid aside, and the memorials of our wrongs are no longer visible on every hand, before you propose to rebuild a joint and common government.”

If we can credit the assertions of both peace and war Democrats, uttered to us in person or through the presses of the United States, our correspondence with Mr. [Horace] Greeley has been promotive of our wishes. It has impressed all but fanatical Abolitionists with the opinion that there can be no peace while Mr. Lincoln presides at the head of the Government of the United States. All concede that we will not accept his terms…They see that he can reach peace only through the subjugation of the South…through the seas of their own blood as well as ours; through anarchy and moral chaos – all of which is more repulsive and intolerable than even the separation and independence of the South. “

(Correspondence of Confederate State Department, Hon. C.C. Clay, Jr. to Hon. J.P. Benjamin, August 11, 1864; Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume VII, Broadfoot Publishing, 1990, pp. 335-336)


A Northerner’s View of Slavery in 1911

The son of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dr. Charles E. Stowe spoke at Fisk University in Nashville in 1911. Though he stated that the Northern and Southern States were equally responsible for African slavery here, he must have been aware that slavery was a British colonial labor system, a system both sections inherited after secession and independence from England. He would also be aware that previous to Massachusetts tinkerer Whitney’s invention, cotton was a laborious and unprofitable crop on a large scale, and that New England mills profited greatly from this invention, slave-produced cotton and a slave trade their brethren would not cease.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

A Northerner’s View of Slavery in 1911:
“This much must be conceded, that the Northern States were just as responsible for the existence of slavery as were the Southern States…and it grew stronger in the Southern States after the invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, simply because it was enormously profitable, and property and slaves correspondingly valuable.

Sometimes the question is asked, “Were not the slaves better off under slavery than they are now under freedom?” I think a candid answer to that question demands us to say than some were better off under slavery than they are under freedom. The abolition of slavery acted on the colored race like a wedge, forcing some down and some up. Those who were fit for freedom, prepared to embrace and make the most of the opportunities offered them as free man, rose. But some were not fit for freedom. Now that is no reflection upon the colored race. We have a very large proportion of the white race that are not fit for freedom. We have innumerable numbers of men and women that we are compelled to confine in institutions and keep as wards of the State, or they destroy themselves and everybody else.

If slavery was an utterly evil institution, with no alleviating features, how are we to account for the fact that when the Confederate soldiers were at the front fighting, as they thought, for their independence, the Negroes on the plantations took care of the women and children and old people, and nothing like an act of violence was ever known among them?

I have seen at Charleston, S.C., a monument erected by former slaveholders and their descendants in grateful acknowledgment of the fidelity of those slaves who remained upon the plantations and cared for their women and children while they were at the front, and I understand that the Confederate veterans are also to erect another such monument. Certainly such kindly feeling between master and slave shows that there must have been something good in the institution of slavery. So we should not look back at the institution of slavery as a reign of unalleviated wickedness and horror, but remember that it had within itself, in spite of its many abuses and intolerable horrors, much that was good.

A letter from President Taft was also read by Dr. Stowe:
The White House, Washington, D.C.

“I am not one of those who believe that it is well to educate that mass of Negroes with academic or university education. On the contrary, I am firmly convinced that the hope of the Negro is in his industrial education throughout the South and in teaching him to be a better farmer, a better carpenter, a better machinist, and a better blacksmith than he is now, and to make more blacksmiths and more good farmers than there now are among the Negroes.”

(Honest Confession Good for the Country, Son of Harriet Beecher Stowe Makes Address at Fisk University, Nashville. Confederate Veteran, July, 1911, pp. 326-327)


Treason Committed by the Invader

Once arbitrary interpretation of the US Constitution by Northern radicals became the norm after 1861, even the definition of treason became nonsensical. In the Founders’ constitutional understanding of treason, it was the levying of war against a State, which is precisely what the Northern government in Washington was doing in Tennessee and other States. The grand jury (below) had Northern bayonets pressed against their backs -- Forrest’s allegiance was to his State and defending Tennessee from invasion was expected of him as an American.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Treason Committed by the Invader:

“But perhaps the most sincere tribute to the effectiveness of his operations came from the other side, when the grand jury of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of West Tennessee, meeting in Memphis for the September 1864 term, returned an indictment against Nathan B. Forrest for treason.

Reciting the existence of “an open and public rebellion, insurrection and war with force of arms…against the government and laws of the United States of America by divers persons…styling themselves “the Confederate States of America,” one of the persons being Nathan B. Forrest, “late of said District aforesaid, “ the grand jurors declared that he, on the twenty-first day of August, 1864, “and on divers other days and times as well as before that day…not weighing the duty of his said allegiance but wickedly devising the and intending the peace and tranquility of the said the United States of America to disturb, and to stir, move, excite, aid and assist in said Rebellion, insurrection and war…with force and arms unlawfully, falsely, maliciously and traitorously did raise and levy war…with a great multitude of persons whose names to the grand jurors aforesaid are unknown…armed and arrayed in a warlike manner…with guns, swords, pistols, and other warlike weapons as well offensive as defensive…did…in a hostile and warlike manner array and dispose themselves against the United States of America…most wickedly and maliciously and traitorously did ordain, prepare and levy war against the said the United States of America, contrary to the duty of the allegiance and fidelity of the said Nathan B. Forrest…” and so on and on.

To all of which the Marshall of the United States Court, in whose hands there was placed the capias for the arrest of “the said Nathan B. Forrest,” made return with unintentional humor – “Defendant not to be found in my district.”

(“First With the Most,” Forrest, Robert Selph Henry, Mallard Press, 1991, pp. 343-344)


Selling to the Enemy

Selling to the Enemy

If the Confederate government was able, albeit partially and belatedly, to gain control over the cotton trade with Europe, it had much less success in curtailing the cotton trade with the Union. On May 21, 1861, the Confederate Congress prohibited the sale of cotton to the North. Yet an illicit trade across military lines flourished between Southern cotton farmers and Northern traders. President Abraham Lincoln gave licenses to traders, who followed the Union army into the South. On March 17, 1862, the Confederacy gave state governments the right to destroy any cotton that might fall into the hands of the Union army. Some devoted Confederates burned their own cotton to keep it out of enemy hands. Other Southerners, however, discovered that Union agents were willing to pay the highest prices in over half a century for cotton or offered badly needed supplies as barter. Ironically, valuable currency for cotton from the North saved some small Southern farmers from starvation. But this selling of cotton to the North undermined Confederate Nationalism, as did the official Confederate trading of cotton with the North conducted in the last years of the war.

As the price of foodstuffs reached astronomical heights and Confederate currency became worthless with inflation, the smuggling of cotton out of the South to the North increased. Women whose husbands had been killed or were away at the battlefield or in prison were heavily involved in forming these caravans. Rich planters and factors also made large deals with Federal officials. The situation became totally absurd when cotton was sold to Federal troops to get supplies for the Confederate army. Even President Lincoln approved an arrangement to send food for Robert E. Lee's Troop at Petersburg in exchange for cotton for New York. Ulysses S. Grant stopped this exchange because he was attempting to cut off Lee's supplies, but other such exchanges occurred through the Civil War.

Source: "The Confederacy" A Macmillan Information Now Encyclopedia, article by Orville Vernon Burton and Patricia Dora Bonnin.

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