“Is the past that is reconstructed by historians a revival or a ‘new show’?” Paul A. Cohen asks in his book History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth (New York: Columbia UP, 1997). He answers that the history created by historians is different from the history made by the people of the times. The historian’s objective is to understand the past and then explain it as “event”, whereas those who made the history explain it as “experience”. The historian tries to look at the past objectively, whereas the people who made the history tend to look at it subjectively, and in a fashion that is psychologically tolerable to themselves. If such subjectivity becomes validated by communal consensus, then myths can be created in place of intellectual truth. “Myth” is the third way of looking at history.
Can an objective historian be a purveyor of myth? However committed he may be to the objective truth, he remains a product of his own culture, and he is subjected in varying degrees to its cultural imperatives, its “world view”. How much cultural subjectivity goes into a historian’s selection of historical matter to be examined or theses to be argued? How much pressure are professional historians under to be admitted to a course of study, to hold tenure, to gain grants, and to stay in good professional and financial graces with the powers that dispense these things?
It should come as no surprise to find that the most powerful nation in history has at its disposal the most powerful means of disseminating its own version of history. From the history books used in government-accredited schools and colleges with their facts given or omitted, to television “docu-dramas”, Hollywood romantics, National Park Service presentations, and the politically correct sensationalism of the media, America has just as much incentive to tell its own story as “creatively” as anyone, and it has its own stable of “Court Historians” with government-accredited PhDs groomed to tell it – and, when necessary, to shout down, deride, or debunk with voluminous obfuscation anyone who disagrees with it.
The North’s war against the South’s secession is a glaring example. The story trumpeted from the heights is that the war was all about slavery, that the North fought to free the slaves and the South fought to keep them. But something doesn’t compute, here. The North was just as complicit with slavery as was the South. Slave-produced staples were the backbone of the North’s economy, while Northern-induced tariffs sucked the life’s blood out of the South for the profit of the North’s industries. Northern wealth was further built on the illicit African Slave-trade to Cuba and Brazil. The January 1862 Continental Monthly stated that New York was the largest African Slave-trading port in the world, with Abolitionist Boston second. As for the Abolitionists, noted Independent Southern Historian Howard Ray White points out that there were three categories. The minority were for abolition and the education of freed slaves for responsible citizenship; the second were Exclusionists, who wanted to keep slavery out of their States and out of the Territories because they wanted to keep African-Americans out of their States and out of the Territories; the third category of Abolitionists were the Deportationists, who wanted to send the freed slaves back to Africa or to someplace in Latin America. Abraham Lincoln was of this last category.
So what was the war really all about? Follow the dollar. The slavery issue was the North’s “red herring” used as moral cover for the true “Irrepressible Conflict” that was building within her classical mercantile system: the conflict between an increasingly predatory Northern industrial center that wanted to burst the constraints of the Constitution in order to achieve its ambitions, and a resistant Southern agricultural periphery that insisted on the federative nature of that Constitution that was the charter of the Union of Sovereign States that each had acceded to with ratification in 1788.
The attempted peaceful secession of the seven “Cotton States” at the election of Lincoln, the presidential candidate of the first strictly sectional party in US history, should have resolved the differences, but with these States out of the Union, the North would have lost its largest source of cotton for its mills, its largest source of tariff revenues, its largest source of exports for its shipping, a major market for its manufactured goods, and control of the mouth of the Mississippi. The South would do business with England while the North’s economy would collapse into bankruptcy and social anarchy, so – at the behest of the Northern industrialists, railroad magnates, financiers and crony capitalists who had gotten him elected – Lincoln provoked the South into firing the first shot, got the war he wanted, marched his armies across the South to the tune of the militantly Puritanical “Battle Hymn of the Republic” - burning, pillaging, raping, and killing - and drove the Southern States back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. As many as 38,000 citizens in the North who disagreed with Lincoln’s policies got locked up without trial after he suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1862. So much for the lofty sentiments of his Gettysburg Address. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued halfway through the war when the South was winning it, was not issued for the slave, but against his master. Its design was to keep Europe from recognizing the Confederacy, to deprive the Confederacy of some of her “support troops”, and perhaps to even spark a slave insurrection which would empty the Confederate ranks. Though many slaves ran away, most remained, looking after the farms and plantations, with many accompanying the Confederate armies.
It is common practice for us to confuse the causes of secession with the cause of the war, and the North wants to keep it that way, for the Truth is an indictment against it. Secession had many reasons, but the war was Lincoln’s choice. The noted historian Barbara Tuchman, in her book The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, called it “The North’s War against the South’s Secession.” It is the precise description of what the war was all about, proven when Lincoln raised his imperial fist above his lofty rhetoric.
During the secession crisis, Virginia, the “Mother of States and of Statesmen,” called a Peace Conference and tried to hold the Union together, but warned Lincoln that any attempt at coercion of the seceded States would mean war. When Lincoln called for troops with just that intention, Virginia indicted him for choosing to inaugurate civil war and immediately seceded. Just as the Prophet Nathan said to King David (II Samuel 12:7), Virginia’s secession forever says to “The Great Emancipator” residing in his Olympian temple on the Mall: “Thou art the man!”
But this doesn’t dance well to the plaintive fiddle tunes on a Ken Burns TV show, so the North’s war of invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance must be turned into an Orwellian war of liberation. This “doublespeak” is “The Myth of American History,” validated by communal consensus, and eternally re-enforced by “Court Historians,” government textbooks, Hollywood sensationalism, race-hustling politicians, and ham-fisted morality plays. But the Truth cannot be killed. It can only be buried alive.
Ever since the Spring of 1864, the South has been on the defensive. She has spent barrels of ink explaining the righteousness of the cause she fought and died for. In ever greater learned detail she delves into the origins of the United States, the Constitution which is its charter, the sovereignty of the States, and the right of secession. She argues with unassailable logic the facts and figures over the extortionate tariff imposed upon her, turning the Southern States into the economic colonies of the industrialized, mercantile North. She explains with the facts of history how slavery was imposed upon her during the Colonial period, how England wouldn’t let her prohibit the importation of slaves, and how the issue was fraught with peril for the founding of the Union, its preservation, its growth, and the safety of all concerned. Over the years her defense has filled volumes, to the point of diminishing returns. She thumps down thick and dusty volumes upon the table before her detractors and says to them, “There! What do you have to say about it now?!!” They look at the pile of books and their eyes glaze over. Then they calmly look at her and say “Slavery” or “racism” or “White supremacy” or whatever the latest Politically Incorrect crime the South is being charged with by the self-righteous Social Justice Warriors.
The charges against the South rest upon The Myth of American History, which proclaims that “The Civil War was all about slavery, the righteous North waged it to free the slaves, and the evil South fought to keep them. End of story. Any questions?” Well, yes. Something doesn’t compute, here. If the North were waging a war on slavery, why didn’t she wage war on New England cotton mills and their profits from slave-picked cotton? Or on New York and Boston, the largest African slave-trading ports in the world according to the January 1862 Continental Monthly? Or on Northern shipyards that outfitted the slave ships? Or on New England distilleries that made rum from slave-harvested sugar cane to use for barter on the African coast? Or on the African slavers themselves, such as the Kingdom of Dahomey, who captured their fellow Africans and sold them into slavery in the first place? And why did Abraham Lincoln – a documented White Supremacist - choose to inaugurate the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere to, in effect, drive Southern slavery back into the Union? And why did his Emancipation Proclamation – a desperate measure of total war waged not for the slave, but against his master – say that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government? And why did he work until the day he died to deport those freed by it back to Africa? And why was slavery Constitutional in the North throughout the entire war?
There were many causes of secession, not least of which was that Southerners no longer wished to be in association with people who slandered and despised them so. But that begs the question of why those people waged the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere to prevent their departure. To hear their vitriol, one would think they would have been happy to be rid of such Apostates polluting their “Citty upon a hill.” But they weren’t, for running like a torrent beneath their bigoted pieties was their avariciousness. With the South’s “Cotton Kingdom” out of the Union and set up as a free trade confederacy on the North’s doorstep, the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” would collapse! So Lincoln rebuffed every Southern overture for peace and launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke South Carolina into firing the first shot and get the war he wanted. South Carolina responded to Lincoln’s provocation at Charleston just as Massachusetts had responded to George III’s provocation at Lexington and Concord. But when Lincoln called for troops to subjugate the “Cotton Kingdom,” Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen,” refused to provide them, indicted Lincoln for “choosing to inaugurate civil war,” seceded from the Union, and joined the Confederacy. Four other States followed her out. But after four years of arduous service, the South was compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources, and Lincoln drove the Southern States back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. Although John Wilkes Booth made a martyr out of America’s Caesar, Reconstruction cemented his conquest. With an Army of Occupation and the pretense of law, a corrupt Northern political party transformed the voluntary Union of sovereign States into a coerced Union pinned together by bayonets.
Results? For the North? “The Gilded Age.” For the South? Grinding poverty in a land laid waste until the Second World War. For the Blacks? A recent study of military and Freedman’s Bureau records has revealed that between 1862 and 1870 perhaps as many as a million ex-slaves, or twenty-five percent of the population, died of starvation, disease, and neglect under their Northern “liberators”! Freed from their master’s care, “Father Abraham, The Great Emancipator,” had told them to “root hog, or die.” Black enfranchisement in the South (but not in the North), and the disfranchisement of Southern Whites, were merely cynical Northern political tools to cement the North’s conquest, and once she had achieved it with her so-called “Reconstruction,” the North abandoned her Black puppets to the upheaval she had wrought in Southern society and turned her attention (with Sherman, Sheridan, Custer, and those people) to the Plains Indians, who were in the way of her trans-continental railroads. But that’s another story - let the Indians tell you that one. Freedom? Union at the point of the bayonet is slavery to a despotic government. Equality? Chronic Black riots in segregated Northern ghettos speak for themselves, but they keep Desperate White Liberals busy designing crusades upon which to post their own specious virtues and to divert credulous Black attention onto Southern scapegoats.
The latest are hateful attacks on Confederate monuments honoring men who defended their homeland against invasion, conquest, and a coerced political allegiance - just as their fathers had done in 1776. But this vitriol has not always been. In spite of the hatred stirred up by the carpetbaggers, the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Union Leagues, and the radical Yankee politicians during Reconstruction, the scars of the North’s War against the South’s Secession began to heal among the soldiers with Grant’s generous terms to Lee at Appomattox; with his soldiers treating the ragged remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia with the respect due to a gallant adversary; with in later years the old veterans of the Blue and the Gray shaking hands over the stone wall at Gettysburg and joining each other in old soldiers’ reunions; with the erection of monuments North and South to commemorate their respective sacrifices in that bloodiest of wars; and with the unity of the States in the face of global wars in the Twentieth Century. But this began to end with the revolution of the 1960s, and the vitriol has only increased. Why? What happened? And what is going on?
Politics and the evolution of technology is what happened, and what has been happening all along. At the time of the Revolutionary War, technology was such that George Washington could not get to Philadelphia or New York or Boston any quicker or more efficiently than Julius Caesar could get to Gaul two thousand years ago. Then somebody invented the steam engine, steam power replaced muscle power as the prime mover of civilization, social structures evolved to orchestrate it, and the Industrial Revolution roared across the world. Steamboats began to ply the rivers, and railroads began to connect the ports with the inland towns and cities. Somebody invented the spinning jenny, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, the textile industry was put into full swing, and cotton was crowned king.
The mercantile North in the early days of independence readily adapted to this rapidly evolving new technology, but the sleepy-time, agrarian South, based upon staple-crop agriculture and shackled to its four million African slaves, could not so easily do so. With the North’s industrialization, with its more intelligent and profitable free White labor, and with its growing sectional majorities steadily augmented by a flow of European immigrants, came the newly evolving Radical Republican Party. Its agenda was to gain control of the Federal Government, centralize its political power, and use it for the political and economic exploitation of the agrarian South and West. However, the powerful Jeffersonian Democratic Party stood in the way of its ambitions. To gain political control, then, the Radical Republicans used the time-honored method of “divide and rule,” and they had the perfect issue readily at hand. They would divide the Democratic West from the Democratic South by agitating the issue of slavery in the Territories. This was achieved in 1860 with the election of their candidate, Abraham Lincoln, to the Presidency. Secession, war, and Reconstruction followed, and the rest is history. But this history has been twisted out of shape to conform to the political ideology of the United States that has evolved today – the ideology of a multi-cultural Empire based on Radical Egalitarianism, universal suffrage, Critical Race Theory, and Progressive Identity Politics. History so twisted is called “Presentism,” and it has nothing to do with the truth and everything to do, in this case, with making the South the Apostate, the foil and scapegoat for all the racial ills of this country. Let us look at this evolution – or perhaps we should say “devolution!”
The gradual peace and reconciliation after Reconstruction came in part from the South’s “acceptance of the situation,” and in part from the North’s recognition of the South’s difficulty in suddenly assimilating millions of Africans into a European population that had been steeped in Western civilization for thousands of years. As such, since the North had gotten what she wanted out of the war and Reconstruction – which was control of the Federal Government and the economy - she was content to let the South deal with her own domestic problems. But with the evolution of technology came the evolution of mass communication. Southern segregation could not survive the combination of politics and television.
Many Blacks at the turn of the twentieth century had moved North in the so-called Great Migration, filling the Northern cities to work in the industries during the First World War. When they arrived, they found themselves relegated by a cold Northern racism into segregated ghettoes, and discovered that the Northern rhetoric about social equality was a political sham. Television gave Northern politicians a way out of this embarrassing situation by giving them the means to divert Black attention from de facto Northern segregation onto the codified segregation in the South.
Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA, son of President Zachary Taylor, once observed most accurately and succinctly that “Greed for office – curse of democracy – will ensure that demagogues will grovel ever deeper in the mire for ignorant votes.” Just as during Radical Reconstruction, in the Radical 60s demagogues saw their political fortunes in Identity Politics, but their demagoguery provoked racial agitation that broke into urban race riots up North. Desperate, guilt-ridden Northern White Liberals were driven to devise crusades upon which to divert the attention of their unwanted Black population onto Southern scapegoats. First came the “Freedom Riders” protesting Southern segregation, and posting their Progressive virtues before the TV cameras for all to see. But while they were down South delivering tutorials on proper race relations to the benighted Southerners, the Blacks up North were burning their cities down. With this unfortunate result, and with their Progressive Identity Politics continually stirring the racial pot, Desperate White Liberals have been pressed ever since into devising new crusades upon which to post their virtues. Their latest is the crusade against Confederate Monuments. Expect more to come before it is all over with. Thomas Jefferson is already under assault at his University, and one might guess what will happen to George Washington, “The Father of His Country,” when the word gets out that he was among eight of the first ten presidents who were Southern, fox-hunting, slave-holding plantation owners.
As the mania of Identity Politics and Radical Egalitarianism reaches the point of absurdity in the Victimhood Olympics, we are being carried away into Babylon, with women being sent into combat while men push baby buggies around town; with girls becoming Boy Scouts and men “choosing” to be women; with children “deciding” their gender and being given access to the bathroom of their choice in school; with teachers being fired for not using the proper pronoun in addressing transgendered students; with anarchy ruling the classrooms and teachers being assaulted by their students; with history being taught as Marxist indoctrination and Critical Race Theory; with conservative speakers at colleges being run off by Antifa and Black Lives Matter mobs; with prison inmates being released to create racial parity in prisons; and on, and on…
Progressives consider the march of history to be a linear march towards a secular Utopian perfection, where the oppressive Laws of God have been repealed. It began with the New England Puritans. While Southerners were following Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap, these Yankee Utopians were burning witches in John Winthrop’s “Citty upon a hill,” and while Southerners were five hundred miles west of the Mississippi defending the Alamo, these Yankee Utopians were a hundred miles west of the Hudson, establishing their collectivist, Free-Love communes, and setting themselves up as the standard by which all true Americans should be measured. In this they have been remarkably successful, to the point where today they have the inmates running the Equality Asylum. But as the Preacher says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Consider the works of God, for who can make that straight which He hath made crooked?”
Southerners know the Eternal Truths. Southerners know, as the Preacher says, that there is no new thing under the sun. Southerners know that history is not a linear march that will end in a rosy Utopia, but a cyclic March of Folly where rosy Utopian dreams end in totalitarian nightmares. Thus Southerners are and always have been Apostates in this “Citty upon a hill” - this Brave New World where “all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins.” And thus Southerners have power to make the Heathen rage.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” - St. John, 8:7
February is Black History Month in Virginia, and it is awash in vitriolic, virtue-posting Confederaphobia, Blackface scandals, resolutions apologizing for lynchings in the past, clamorings for removal of Latter-Day-designated “Jim Crow” monuments, picking the scabs off of long-dead slavery, and never-ending reminders and charges of Southern racism. Those who have only one card to play must play it for all it’s worth. In today’s climate of Progressive Identity Politics, it is easy to twist Black history into Progressive Identity Politics propaganda. I would therefore like to offer some points for consideration that might put some of these matters in a proper historical perspective. Let me begin with slavery.
Slavery is as old as history. The Laws of Moses codify it in Leviticus, Chapter 25, and the way slavery was practiced in America before it was abolished was closely in accordance with the Laws of Moses. In Virginia, we are noting the 400th anniversary of slavery being brought to our shores. The first cargo was purchased as indentured servants, but subsequent rulings codified perpetual bondage for some. One of the first slave owners in Virginia was a freed Black African named Anthony Johnson, who – at the end of his indenture - owned a tobacco plantation and slaves on the Eastern Shore. His was not an unusual circumstance, even after the Colonial period, although Blacks were prohibited by law from owning White – or “Christian” – slaves. “[S]lave-owning by free Negroes was so common in the period of the Commonwealth as to pass unnoticed and without criticism by those who consciously recorded events of the times.”
While the New England Puritans enslaved Native Americans (with poor success) we might claim that the Whites of the South – while they purchased, owned, and traded in slaves - did not actually enslave anyone. However, as the above shows, in changing an indenture of a limited period of service to an indenture for life, that claim is not technically true. But while it is true that Whites of the South obtained slaves by purchase from Northern and European slavers and not from capture or slave-raiding, the actual enslavement of the African race was done by the Africans themselves. Zora Neale Hurston, the noted Black anthropologist, interviewed Cudjo Lewis, the last known living survivor of the African Slave-trade to the United States, who told his harrowing tale of capture by the slavers of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which Hurston recorded in her book Dust Tracks on a Road, and in her more recent book Barracoon. After hearing his story, Hurston stated that in spite of the fact that White people had purchased and exploited her people, the “inescapable fact that stuck in my craw was: my people had sold me and the White people had bought me.” But the White people in the Age of Discovery had found slave markets already in operation on the coast of Africa, and took advantage of this source of labor to develop the colonies of the Caribbean and Brazil, and later in North America. Africa was the home of slavery before the Europeans arrived, and – according to the anthropologist E. Adamson Hoebel – it still is, with slavery being practiced in over two-thirds of the sub-Saharan cultures.
Slavery was first brought to our Colonial shores by the European Colonial powers. Early on, however, Virginians perceived the dangers and the iniquity of it all and sought to put an end to the traffic. The Virginia Legislature time and again tried to put prohibitive duties on the traffic, but Britain always vetoed the legislation. It was not until after American independence that the African Slave-trade was abolished by the US Constitution in 1809.
However, the Constitutional abolition of the African Slave-trade did not stop traders in the US. Although the British Navy patrolled the Slave Coast, Yankee smugglers evaded them regularly, and the Stars and Stripes proved to be an excellent talisman for vessels wishing to avert search and seizure. At the time of the election of Lincoln and the breaking-out of war, New York and New England dominated the trade, carrying mostly to Brazil and Cuba. The January 1862 Continental Monthly stated: “The number of persons engaged in the slave-trade, and the amount of capital embarked in it, exceed our powers of calculation. The city of New York has been until of late the principal port of the world for this infamous commerce; although the cities of Portland and Boston are only second to her in that distinction. Slave dealers added largely to the wealth of our commercial metropolis, and their bank accounts were largely depleted to carry elections…” John Brown of Rhode Island (not the John Brown of Harpers Ferry), founder of Brown University with money he made from his African Slave-trading, once said that in his opinion “there was no more crime in bringing off a cargo of slaves than in bringing off a cargo of jackasses.” When will that distinguished Ivy League University own up to its founding?
It might be inferred here, and correctly so, that the South held no monopoly on racism. In fact, the North passed “Jim Crow” laws long before the War Between the States, and long before the South passed her laws after Reconstruction. Lincoln’s Illinois prohibited Blacks from entering the State, either bond or free. John Randolph of Roanoke, Old Virginia statesman, bought land in Ohio and bequeathed it to his people for their settlement after he manumitted them in his will, but when they went to settle, the people in Ohio ran them out of the State and stole their land. According to Alexis de Tocqueville, the Northern States abolished slavery for its inutility in their industrializing economy, but they did not free any of their slaves. They sold them South before the Abolitionist laws went into effect, thus ridding themselves not only of an undesired labor system, but of an undesired population as well. In his well-known classic Democracy in America, Tocqueville noted that “the prejudice of race appears to be stronger in the states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists; and nowhere is it so intolerant as in those states where servitude has never been known.” The heated issue of slavery in the Territories, which did so much to provoke the secession of the seven States of the “Cotton Kingdom” at the election of Lincoln and the “Radical Republicans,” was strongly opposed by the White people of the North, not because it would spread the institution of slavery into the Territories, but because it would spread the Black population into the Territories. The Territories at the time either prohibited Blacks from residing within their borders, or required them to post a prohibitive bond for their good behavior.
Lincoln himself, the “Great Emancipator,” was a White Supremacist who was an advocate until the day he died of deportation out of the country of the freed Black population through the Colonization Society. To a delegation of prominent African Americans who called on him during the War, Lincoln said: “And why should the people of your race be colonized, and where? … You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists 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 suffers very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer side by side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated.” Lerone Bennett, Jr., once editor of Ebony magazine, stated that between 1854 and 1860, Lincoln said on at least fourteen occasions he believed the Black race was inferior to the White. Bennett elaborates in detail in his book Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 2000). While we are busy vandalizing and removing Confederate monuments for specious allegations, what shall we do, then, about the Lincoln Memorial?
As for “Lynch Law,” the South holds no monopoly on that, either. In 1741 seventeen slaves were hanged and thirteen burned at the stake for an insurrection in New York. And while the Virginia legislature has recently voted unanimously to express “profound regret” for the lynching of 80 people between 1877 and 1950, between 100 and perhaps as many as 1,000 Free Blacks were lynched from lamp posts in one week during the July 1863 New York Draft Riots, in addition to the Colored Orphan Asylum being burned to the ground. This of course in no way exonerates Virginia or anyone else, North, South, or West, from this or any other lawless behavior, but only exhibits the sad fact that all mankind is capable of sin.
So what of our Confederate monuments? As Edmund Burke said, you are gibbeting the carcass while your house is the haunt of robbers.
"History is the propaganda of the victorious," said Voltaire, and such has it permeated our modern-day interpretation of the so-called "Civil War" that Progressive Identity Politicians and radical leftists are foaming at the mouth, posting their virtues, and calling for the destruction of all things Confederate, while Southerners and descendants of Confederate soldiers are crying mea culpa, rolling in the dust, and covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes. It is unbecoming of descendants of men who were fighting to defend their country from invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance, just as their forefathers had done in 1776, when the thirteen slaveholding Colonies seceded from the British Empire. Perhaps this true perspective of history will assuage their guilt – and, if the Truth means anything to the self-anointed, intolerant Elect who hate these Confederate soldiers and their descendants, perhaps it will temper their own intolerance and their own hate. Let us hope so, for who made these Latter-day Cains their brothers’ keepers?
The war was not the evil South's war to defend slavery or the righteous North’s war to free the slaves, as the “propaganda of the victorious” would have it. The North admitted it in the New York Times: “Slavery has nothing whatever to do with the tremendous issues now awaiting decision. It has disappeared almost entirely from the political discussions of the day. No one mentions it in connection with our present complications. The question which we have to meet is precisely what it would be if there were not a [N]egro slave on American soil.”
Follow the dollar. With “King Cotton” out of the Union the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” would suffer financial disaster, so Lincoln launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke South Carolina into firing the first shot to get the war he wanted and drive the “Cotton Kingdom” back into the Union - and in the process, to transform the voluntary Union of sovereign States bequeathed us by the Founders into a coerced industrial Empire.
South Carolina responded to Lincoln’s provocation in Charleston Harbor just a Massachusetts responded to George III’s provocation at Lexington and Concord. It was Abraham Lincoln's war to prevent Confederate independence. Virginia, "The Mother of States and of Statesmen," proved it by her decision on April 17, 1861. When the secession crisis arose at the election of Lincoln, Virginia called a Peace Conference to try to hold together the Union she had given so much to create, but she warned Lincoln that any attempt at coercion would lead to war. Lincoln did not listen to Virginia. Instead, he rebuffed all Confederate overtures for peaceful diplomacy, and launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke the South into firing the first shot to get the war he wanted. He then called for troops from Virginia to help in his war to subjugate the “Cotton Kingdom.” Virginia, which had recently voted to remain in the Union, immediately voted to secede, while indicting Lincoln for inaugurating civil war. Four more States followed Virginia out of the Union. The rest is history, although it has been twisted into lies to conform to the identity politics of our multi-cultural Empire. But as Thomas Carlyle observed, “All lies are cursed and damned from the beginning.” We are seeing the results today.
An African-American columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch recently opined that it is time to unlearn the “fake history” of slavery and “The Lost Cause” that ostensibly has been taught in schools in Virginia and the South. The truth might be more than he wants. Much of today’s “fake history” comes from calculated omissions in order to confirm one’s credentials as a victim in today’s progressive identity politics. Therefore, while we are “unlearning the fake history of slavery” it may be of interest to unlearn some of the “fake history” of the victims of slavery.
As by far the majority of our African-American citizens are the descendants of slaves imported into the United States (and would still be in Africa today had it not been for the African slave-trade) we might find of interest the testimony of the last known individual to have been smuggled here in a slave ship just prior to the War Between the States. The noted African-American anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, recorded this testimony of Cudjo “Kossola” Lewis, near Mobile, Alabama, in her book Dust Tracks on a Road.
Lewis had been a member of the Takkoi nation. One morning they were attacked by the fearsome Amazon warriors of Dahomy, who burst through the gates of the compound while the male warriors waited outside to seize those who fled. The old and infirm were beheaded and their heads carried off as trophies. The rest were marched in a slave coffle to the Kingdom of Dahomey and the barracoons on the beach at Dmydah. On the second day of the march the severed heads began to rot, so the Dahomian slavers halted to smoke them. Lewis reported that they had to watch the drying heads of their friends and relatives turning on the long poles in the smoke.
At Dahomey, they saw the King’s palace surrounded by a wall of skulls before they were put into a barracoon on the beach to await the arrival of a slave ship. There were many captive tribes there, each tribe placed in a separate barracoon to prevent them from warring with each other. When a trader arrived, he would first decide which tribe interested him, and then – with the men lined up on one side and the women on the other – he would go along picking out the slaves he wished to purchase. Lewis was embarked in the Chlotilde, a fast sailing vessel built by the Maher brothers of Maine, who had moved to Alabama. They were chased by a British man-o’-war on slave patrol, but she outran it. Arriving at Mobile, the vessel and cargo were smuggled into the river, the hundred-odd slaves unloaded, and the vessel scuttled. The Africans then began their brief careers as slaves.
The implications of “fake history” today are that the South has a monopoly on sin, but one might note that the slave smugglers who brought Lewis and his people here were from Maine, one of the New England centers of the African slave-trade. The noted African-American historian and Harvard professor, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, in his work The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States, quotes the January 1862 issue of the New York Journal of Commerce as stating that New York, Boston, and Portland were the largest African Slave-trading ports in the world at the time.
Moreover, in her work quoted above, Zora Neale Hurston said that in spite of the fact that white people had purchased and exploited her people, the “inescapable fact that stuck in my craw, was: my people had sold me and the white people had bought me.” She said it did away with the folklore (fake history?) she had been brought up on, that white people had gone to Africa, waved a red handkerchief at the Africans to lure them onto the beach and aboard of the slave ship out of curiosity, and then sailed away with them. But no, she said, her own people had “butchered and killed, exterminated whole nations and torn families apart, for a profit” before strangers arrived, and all that Lewis had told her was verified from other historical sources, which impressed upon her the “universal nature of greed and glory.”
While Americans (North and South) owned slaves and traded in slaves, they did not enslave anyone. It was Black Africans who did that. How shall we fit that into the “Myth of American History,” our progressive Black Lives Matter identity politics, and our endeavor to “unlearn fake history”?
On January 7, 1861, Virginia’s Governor John Letcher convened the Virginia General Assembly in extra session because of the extraordinary situation of the secession from the Union of the State of South Carolina (followed by six others in the Deep South) at the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency - a lawyer and railroad lobbyist, and the candidate of a strictly sectional Northern political party in vocal and vitriolic enmity against the South. In the evening session of that same date, delegate Wyndham Robertson, who had once served as Governor of Virginia, presented to the House of Delegates what came to be known as the Anti-Coercion Resolution. The following is recorded in the Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia for the Extra Session, 1861 (Richmond: William F. Ritchie, Public Printer, 1861, pgs. 9-10) found in the Special Collection of the Library of Virginia:
When the secession crisis arose, Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen,” called a Peace Conference of all States to try to resolve the differences between the two sections and to hold the voluntary Union of sovereign States together that she and her statesmen had done so much to create. But Virginia told the Lincoln Administration in no uncertain terms that, while she thought the secession of the seven “Cotton States” was a mistake and unnecessary, they were fully within their rights, and she would not condone any coercion of those States by his administration to force them to return to the Union, warning him that any such attempt would lead to war.
Lincoln did not listen to the counsel of Virginia. He listened instead to his constituents in the industrializing North who had gotten him elected, and whose money interests would suffer or even collapse if the agricultural South – and particularly the “Cotton Kingdom” - were allowed to leave the Union and out from under the control of their “Mercantile Kingdom.” Lincoln therefore rebuffed all Southern overtures of diplomacy, and instead sent a heavily-armed armada to Charleston to provoke the South into firing the first shot and get the war he and his moneyed constituents wanted. After the success of his plan, he wrote to the commander of the expedition, Capt. G. V. Fox:
Lincoln then called for a quota of troops from each of the respective States - without the consent of Congress (which, under Article I, Sect. 8 of the Constitution, has the sole power to declare war) - to drive the “Cotton States” back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. Lincoln, the obfuscating lawyer, got around the Constitution by declaring that he was merely calling for troops to put down a rebellion too large to be contained by U. S. Marshalls – perhaps the understatement of the century. And since Lincoln did not recognize that the seceded States were out of the Union, by this masterful splitting of a hair he also absolved himself of treason (under Article IV, Sect. 4) for invading the Southern States with his armies. But “The Mother of States and of Statesmen” did not absolve him, for she was not taken in by his specious legal obfuscation. She knew what despotism looked like, for she had seen it “four-score and seven years” before.
When Virginia received Lincoln’s demand for troops, Governor Letcher was astonished and he emphatically refused to comply. A copy of his response may be found in the Richmond Enquirer, April 18, 1861:
The next day, April 17, 1861, the Virginia Convention, which had recently voted overwhelmingly to remain in the Union, passed Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession. As Winston Churchill wrote in his History of the English Speaking Peoples (vol. 4, pg. 169):
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, the author graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967 with a degree in Civil Engineering and a Regular Commission in the US Army. His service included qualification as an Airborne Ranger, and command of an Engineer company in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star. After his return, he resigned his Commission and ended by making a career as a tugboat captain. During this time he was able to earn a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond, with an international focus on war and cultural revolution. He is a member of the Jamestowne Society, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Society of Independent Southern Historians. He currently lives in Richmond, where he writes, studies history, literature and cultural revolution, and occasionally commutes to Norfolk to serve as a tugboat pilot