The common practice of the mainstream news media today is the slanting or outright fabrication of facts, distortion of events, or the creation of a false narrative. You wonder what is really happening. You don’t recognize your country, perhaps even your neighbors. You certainly don’t recognize those ‘representatives’ whose antics you see in Congress. Even places such as universities, once sources of education, debate and tradition now have faculty and student bodies that look more like fans of some European soccer team than partakers in an open debate. When you hear the latest rant on the college campus, and you wonder how we have arrived at this pass, don’t give in to despair. REMEMBER!
Remember John Paul Jones-”I have not yet begun to fight,” George Washigton crossing the Delaware, William Moultrie at Fort Sullivan, and the Overmountain Men at King’s Mountain.
Time and again the Southern spirit has faced long odds with optimism born of that spirit which drove men to push the frontier further West, conquering mountains and rivers, facing sometimes hostile foreign powers and Native Americans. This spirit was demonstrated by South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis. When the republic was threatened by sectionalism and constitutional issues that could not be easily resolved, this spirit led several of the sovereign American states to secede, and form a new government to protect their rights and liberty.
Jackson faced long odds in the Valley, and with Lee at Richmond, Sharpsburg and Chancellorsville; Forrest at Ft. Donelson and Brice’s Crossroads, and Taylor In the Red River Campaign. These are not isolated cases, but what Confederates faced in most of their battles. The South faced those odds with rugged determination and optimism born of the spirit of King’s Mountain and Jackson at New Orleans. This spirit helped the South survive the harrowing years of occupation known as Reconstruction. I prefer Redestruction, because the destruction of war was compounded by onerous new hardships, destroying much of what was left of the Southern economy. Only a people with the spirit of such noble forefathers could have survived such an ordeal.
This spirit helped move America into the global arena, as innovation and inventions helped move the country into a position of prosperity relative to the rest of the world. America became a beacon for immigrants, who sought a better life, and with some of that same spirit fled old homes for new opportunities. This spirit was captured a few decades ago, around the time of the Bicentennial of 1976, by Richard M. “Pek” Gunn, then Poet Laureate of Tennessee:
This seemingly simple little piece not only makes you smile, but it gets to the heart of the South. My copy of this poem calls this attitude the “Real Spirit of ‘76!” The South, the true origin of the liberty the Founders’ brought onto the world stage, is the only region capable of restoring what we have lost, because it is the only region that keeps those memories alive. In places like Charleston and Mobile, Richmond and Savannah, Raleigh and Natchez, we can see them. We hear them in the music of New Orleans and Memphis, the Mississippi Delta and Nashville, Atlanta and Muscles Shoals. We can read them In Faulkner and Gordon, Wolfe and Warren, Davidson and Lytle, O’Connor and Hurston to name just a few.
I visited Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall, Stratford Hall, and Monticello as a young boy. I knew great men lived here, men who inhabit and whose actions moved the pages of history. I felt a sense of awe that I could walk where they walked, read their words, and catch a glimpse of their world. I could almost feel the spirit which led them to seek a better form of government. Today students are not taught the truth about our past, and most do not have any sense of wonder at how a handful of men made such an impact on the world stage. They have not had an experience to show them the spirit which moves men to make sacrifices and dream of a better life for future generations.
I know thinking about the 535 members sitting in Congress, most of whom know less about the Constitution than the readers of this website, may give reason to pause, and consider how far we have fallen from the Founders’ vision. It does indeed take an optimist to think we have a chance to rescue this land from a seemingly odious fate. But an optimist I must remain, perhaps not saving the empire of 50 states sprawled across the continent, but saving the South from entanglement in that empire. This will be possible only if we continue to be optimistic, to work even harder to educate our neighbors. We must think and act locally, as our voice is not even welcomed on the larger stage. But in a region which still bears the scars of the despot’s heel, hears the distant drone of empire, and knows the cost of promises unfulfilled, the dream of free men can still draw us from lethargy to action. We don’t know what inning it is, and the score is certainly more desperate than 42 to nutthin’, but the South will have the last bat.
Addendum, Spring, 2020
Today our country faces a pandemic of unknown proportions, and a stalled economy. We are seeing government actions that are alarming, partly because they sometimes do not seem to be based on reality. People are starting to realize that what is best for California might not be what is best for Alabama. Words like federalism and secession appear in places where, only a few months ago, they would not have been welcomed. People are restless after weeks of confinement. Unfortunately, the spirit of liberty and the quality of leadership does not seem to be evenly distributed. Perhaps change is in the wind. There remains, on stages small and large, glimpses of that spirit which has characterized the resilience of America for generations. People want to be positive, to move forward. Sometimes they only need a leader to show the way.
The Kennedys have fired a well placed shot across the bow of the Yankee Empire designed to illuminate the history of the past 150 years. This book is a bonfire in the night, shedding light on some of the dark corners of United States history.
Lord Acton, the British historian and philosopher, and General Robert E. Lee, corresponding in 1866, both saw States’ Rights as an essential component of free government. Lord Acton “saw in States’ Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will.” He mourned over the defeat of the Confederate States and what it meant for liberty. General Lee,responding, feared:
“Whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”
Lord Acton and Lee have certainly been proven prophets, and the Kennedys offer proof, well documented with extensive footnotes. The Yankee empire’s interventions abroad and the despotic treatment of its subjects at home are exposed and can no longer be ignored. The book moves between chapters devoted to the origins of “Yankee Go Home,” 150 years of adventures abroad, and the invasion and destruction of the Southern nation.
Before the Middle East, before Southeast Asia, before Latin America and Hawaii, before the Yankee Empire had coalesced into a power eyeing the world, the North cast its eyes Southward. The development of different cultures, economies, even views of government by the North and South from colonial times through the early republic eventually led to political stress between the two. The commercial and big government interests of the North were not compatible with the South’s conservative agrarian lifestyle, secured by their love of states’ rights and strict construction of the Constitution. Increasingly the North saw the South as an obstacle to the continued growth of government which the North needed for their commercial and economic prosperity. The republic of the Founders had to be destroyed and all power centralized in the Federal the government was the view of those elites who sought political and economic power.
There were warnings from some during the Constitutional Convention that a union between the North and the South was unwise. They saw the differences between the people, especially their views of government and economic policies, as incompatible and eventually leading to conflict. Events were to prove them only too correct.
Raphael Semmes described the Yankees, “He [the Yankee] is ambitious, restless, scheming, energetic, and has no inconvenient moral nature to restrain him from the pursuit of his interests, be the path to these never so crooked. In the development of material wealth, he is unsurpassed… “ JudaH P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of War, stated, “If they had behaved differently; if they had come against us observing strict discipline, protecting women and children, respecting private property…But they could not help showing their cruelty and rapacity, they could not dissemble their true nature, which is the real cause of this war. If they had been capable of acting otherwise, they would not have been Yankees, and we should never have quarreled with them.”
The showdown between the burgeoning economic empire and the constitutional republic was inevitable, according to most historians. It would also be unlike other conflicts with the savage invasion, plunder and destruction of the South. Atrocities and retaliation against the native population were seen in the South. Southern infrastructure was in ruins. Reconstruction continued the plunder and destruction. Eventually a reign of terror and even attempts to depopulate areas and repopulate them with loyal subjects of the empire. Carpetbag governments, puppets of the empire, exploited the South. Bayonet constitutions took away rights of former Confederate soldiers. The empire’s policy of divide and rule pitted the black and white populations against each other, putting further stress on Southern culture and society. Eventually a system of debt peonage, or sharecropping, brought a different kind of slavery to the majority of the South, both black and white. The South had gone from riches to rags. Empires plunder. Like Rome, the United States had become a shell of a republic on the outside, but the inner workings were no longer that of a government of principles.
We have seen the South, being an obstacle to Northern commercial and economic growth, became the first victim of the Yankee Empire. Brutal war, crushing invasion, destruction of property, propaganda used to destroy culture and imposition of puppet governments (carpetbaggers, who carried off what was left from the war’s destruction). This exploitation of a captive nation set the pattern that would build the Yankee empire. Instead of carpetbagger exploitation of the South, Native Americans were ruled by the Empire’s bureaucrats, and in countries far and wide, “our man’ in whatever capital did the bidding of the Empire’s elites.
A pretext for invasion usually hides an economic benefit or protects a commercial interest of the Yankee Empire or its allies. Policies such as retaliation against native populations, extermination and repopulation in areas of resistance, divide and rule, cultural genocide, and reconstruction along lines which favour the Yankee Empire’s interests all help keep the empire’s puppet governments in power. “Our man” and his elites allow the empire to exploit the local resources or labour. The newfound ‘prosperity’ also creates new markets for the empire’s products, though most of the ‘prosperity’ ends up in the hands of the elite at the expense of the common people of a country. These policies make the common people second class Yankees, good for cheap labour.
Destruction of a culture, control of government institutions, especially education, and using the media for propaganda purposes are all components of the reconstruction of a society. Before attempts to reconstruct the Philippines, Cuba, Hawaii, and Native Americans, the South was the object of this imperial tactic.
Propaganda was used extensively to alter perceptions about the war. Opposition to the war was great in the North, and much of Europe. The cry that the Union must be preserved was used to rally the North to the war effort, though the Union was in not danger. When war fortunes were running against the North, the issue of freedom for Southern (not Northern) slaves was used as a moral cause to stall efforts to gain European recognition of Southern independence. The fact that the South had led efforts to end slavery, and often it was Northern votes which perpetuated the African slave trade did not matter. Wild cries from Northern press about prison atrocities, massacres, and crimes committed by Southern troops had no foundation.
Republics avoid foreign entanglements and are not aggressive. The destruction of the Founders’ republic led to the creation of the Yankee Empire, and with the South destroyed, there was no force left in America to stop it. The Kennedys point out that before the War for Southern Independence, the United States influenced the world through missionaries and merchants-after the defeat of the Confederate States of America, the United States influenced the world via its military, its gunboats, and more recently, its missiles and drones. Native Americans in the West, the Kingdom of Hawaii, Western powers in China during the Boxer Rebellion, Columbia, Honduras, Guatemala-all were part of the march of the Yankee Empire. Later Southeast Asia and the Middle East would feel the imperial influence.
The chapters might seem random at first glance, but they flow seamlessly from overseas adventures, back to the invasion and destruction of Dixie. Southerners have tried to be good citizens, and the altar of freedom is bathed in Southern blood. But reconciliation can only go so far when Southern heritage, Southern culture and the rights of a people to live under a government of their unfettered consent is constantly under attack by the elites and crony capitalists who run the empire. Southern independence would have meant two republics in North America. The defeat of the Radical Republicans might have led the United States to retain its republican government and avoided both the despotism at home and adventurism abroad.
Andrew Lytle wrote “The mercy of God did not bring independence. Nor was the war over. One phase was done…The avowed purpose of [Northern policy] was the destruction of Southern civilization.” We now see the fruit of such policies. Yet polls of Southerners still show substantial support for Southern heritage, the right of a state to secede, and a desire to see a return to constitutional government. This persistent desire to honour Confederate heritage, States’ Rights, and the Founders’ vision of limited government, after generations of Yankee Empire propaganda, may offer hope for the future. Does the South have the will to be free? Is she just waiting for leaders of vision and courage to lead a movement for government by the unfettered consent of the governed?
The Kennedys tackle these questions and offer hope for regaining a government representing the consent of the people. This work belongs on the shelf of all unreconstructed Southerners.
This piece originally appeared on the Abbeville Institute website on April 9, 2019.
I will not call the Federal City after our first president, as it is too great an insult for his name to bear! Please let me explain.
The Bible teaches that there is a heavenly kingdom, which we should seek to be citizens of. This is the kingdom of those who serve God and who today have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. Those who belong to this kingdom obey a heavenly master. The Bible also teaches that there is opposed to the heavenly kingdom an earthly kingdom, which seeks power and money rather than the love of God. Satan has turned man’s attention from the heavenly kingdom by using pride, lust, envy, hate and greed among other tools to set man against man. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome all came and went.
Though some empires accepted and aided the church to varying degrees, no empire can truly project a sound faith over vast territories and differing peoples. The Roman, Carolingian, Viking, and Holy Roman Empires helped the spread of the early church to some degree, but empires always had the acquisition of land and power as their core interest. The Spanish gave us the Inquisition, and a lust for gold that was slightly tempered with a spread of the church. The French added ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ with a sizeable body count from wars of conquest.
The British saw the sun never set on their lands and did manage to send missionaries to spread the Gospel to many lands, but their core interest was commerce.
The American colonies broke away from one of the great empires of the Eighteenth Century. One common theme among most of the founding generation was the need to avoid setting up a strong central government to endanger their new found freedom. The memory of abuses endured from the seat of empire in London were fresh on their minds. Yet the impulse for empire can be traced back at least to Alexander Hamilton and his schemes for an American commercial empire to rival the rest of the world. This could only be accomplished with the aid of an energetic federal government. Some (Washington, Jefferson, and Mason come to mind) sought the pleasures of living close to the land, producing that which nature provides, and trading for what else was necessary. This ordered way of life, set to the rhythms of nature, the seasons flowing across the land, naturally led to a respect for traditions and an acknowledgement that the divine was in control of the world.
Hamilton, with his schemes of subsidies, tariffs, and his ‘blessing of public debt,’ stood in stark contrast to those conservative men of the soil. As with other forms of patronage of old, these schemes reek of envy, greed, pride and lust for money. The farther the central government moved from the agrarian tradition, the farther removed from its roots in the ‘plain folk,’ and the closer it came to serving the interests of a ruling elite. This has accelerated as the behemoth in the Federal City has continued to ignore the hard working citizens of ‘fly over country.’ The corruption and waste are so pervasive, it is hard to draw attention to the problem. We are so used to the circus which performs in the capital city, no one seems to know how to go about reforming it.
Ron and Donnie Kennedy chronicle this rise of this empire in their book ‘Yankee Empire: Adventurous Abroad and Despotic at Home.’ The resulting loss of liberty for the average American was presaged by the barbaric invasion of Dixie. This Yankee Empire was built on the ashes of the South, its first conquest. Since then, the United States has been quick to send in the navy, marines, and greedy exploiters of other people’s resources to far off lands, seeking influence and plunder. Though many in history have sailed ships with Bibles in hand, the current empire sails ships loaded with the tools of commerce and exploitation.
What are those of us who see the current federal government as an obstacle to liberty to do? The elite, like ‘court parties’ of absolute monarchs, have contempt for those of us who value, in the words of Mel Bradford, the ‘permanent things.’ Only those who ‘think local’ can understand liberty. It loses its meaning as we move farther from our native soil. It would seem, then, that liberty is not an attribute of our current empire. Liberty has been supplanted by a mad pursuit of money and profits. These are values which enslave men to their passions of greed and envy, which animate them to the lust for empire. Unfortunately for us, this is the empire which the Bible warns us is of this world, and is doomed. The Bible often references Babylon when describing this man made, evil, worldly frame of reference. Therefore I propose we rename the Federal City: Babylon-on-the-Potomac, a much more descriptive and appropriate name.