Friday, July 23, 2021

The Greatest Myth in U.S. History: Yes, the Civil War Era Did Feature Champions of States' Rights, But No, They Were Not in the South (Au Contraire)

Plus ça change…  Did you know that in the 1850s, members of the Democrat party were referred to regularly as fire eaters or as locofocos? It kind of sounds like Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) and Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), does it not? Do not forget that one of this blog's most prominent posts over the past 17 years explained how we are (now) living in The Era of the Drama Queens.

As conservatives have started warning of a second civil war, it turns out that the (first) Civil War and its era has lots to teach us, not least the myths (or lies) that still are generally accepted 160 years afterwards, by all parts (North as well as South, conservative as well as leftist). 

Two of the main myths that will be covered in this and a future post are 1) who it was who really fought for States' Rights in the mid-19th century and 2) the credibility and trustworthiness of the South's secession conventions over the winter of 1860-1861 (guess what: over a century (!) afterwards, it was discovered that Georgia, of all places, voted… against secession).

This is the second post in a series of three on the Civil War era compared with modern times, and evidence of the lack of scruples in the Democrat party since its very inception.

While Joe Biden's Democrat administration engages in truth-stretching while attempting to censor the opposition and while working to undermine states' rights and election integrity through the federalizing of the election process, it is time to debunk one of the biggest myths in American, nay, world, history — not to call it one of human history's biggest lies…

That myth, or lie, is that between 1861 and 1865, the South, i.e., the Democrats, fought, at least partially, for the principle of States' Rights. Notice that I am not saying, unequivocally, that they fought for slavery (although that would not be wrong), and nothing else. I am saying that the facts show that States' Rights was the furthest thing from their mind.

Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you may be startled to learn that the truth is the exact opposite.

Before the war, the only people fighting for state-right principles were from, yes, the states of the North, while the South was deliberately working to undermine the issue.

You don't believe me? Remember: among the things Northern citizens took for granted were:
• ignoring Southern demands that fugitive slaves be returned,
• a prohibition against slavery in of half the Union,
• banning slave owners from traveling into the North's free-soil states with any member of their chattel (lest they be freed),
• and allowing blacks the right to be an American citizen, as much of the particular state as of the Union (the nation). 

Through the years, and the decades, all of these "States' rights" were undermined, completely or partially, directly or indirectly, by the South and/or the Democratic party. Meanwhile, Americans were told that it was uncouth to debate "the particular institution," and the U.S. post office banned abolition literature  (known today as "hate speech") in the mail.

Indeed, these incessant harassment campaigns is what gave birth to, what caused the rise of, and what provoked the growing popularity of, the nascent Republican party.

Northern states wished to refrain from returning fugitives to the South, if they were not fugitive criminals (white or black) but only fugitive slaves, and this "state right" was nullified by the Compromise of 1850 which created the Fugitive Slave Law.  In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act gutted the Missouri Compromise, allowing slavery where it had previously been banned, North of latitude 36°30'. In 1857, the Supreme Court declared that blacks couldn't be citizens, anywhere in the nation, which was nothing less than a revolutionary move suggesting that the Compromise of 1820 had been null and void from the very moment it had been agreed on, 40 years earlier. 

So it was the Northern states, not the Southern, along with members of the nascent Republican Party, who represented the roots and the epitome of the American Revolution — local self-government, I/we want to be left alone, and Don't Tread on Me/on Us — whereas the South was attempting, if anything, to undermine states' rights and shanghai, surreptitiously, said Northern states into nationalizing politicians' and bureaucrats' power to interfere into the lives of citizens and subjects, whether white or black.

In Crisis of the House Divided, Harry Jaffa writes that

In the decade before the Civil War the South never turned to state-right principles except to defend the institution of slavery.  If state-right principles were sacred to the South, it would not have demanded the rigorous fugitive slave law it did

 … if it were accepted as settled legal doctrine that the right to property in slaves was "expressly affirmed" in the Constitution, there could be no legal barrier to a future decision pronouncing slavery lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South

As it happens, the Southern strategy of undermining states' rights forms the nucleus of Abraham Lincoln's House Divided speech. in which the Illinois lawyer warned that, eventually, Southerners would be allowed to take their slaves into any part of the country that they wished, and that eventually slavery must become the law of the land, legal in the North as well as in the South, in states as well as territories. 

As much to the point is the fact that this undermining of American society seemed to be part of a stealth campaign. Read the entire 1858 speech, and it becomes clear that what Lincoln is warning about is a covert power grab by leaders of the Democratic party — with the help of political allies on the Supreme Court (whose supposed wisdom we are all supposed to defer to).  (Notice that the first two sentences quoted below are akin to another modern issue, Democrats pressing for a one-time acceptance of millions of illegal aliens in the USA and promising that that will put an end to the matter once and for all…)

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed -

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing, or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new-North as well as South.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

It is often thought that Lincoln's June 1858 speech is optimistic (by leaving out the last sentence above) — that one day all of America will be slave-free. In reality, as Abe's question demonstrates, it is precisely the opposite: a pessimistic warning that those in favor of universal slavery are winning — through stealth, hidden agendas, backroom deals, "dark and mysterious" cabals, deliberate temporary pauses, the use of misleading language, and the twisting of the meaning of words

All in the name of putting the American people asleep; declawing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as the fabric of the entire country; and undermining, yes, States' Rights and the Tenth Amendment. Read the words in bold, and see if they don't remind you of the agendas, overt or other, of the Barack, Joe, Chuck, and Nancy "dynasty."

Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination - piece of machinery so to speak- compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design and concert of action, among its chief bosses, from the beginning.

 … This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man, choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object.

 … the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, to not care whether slavery is voted down or voted up.

This shows exactly where we now are; and partially also, whither we are tending.

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free" "subject only to the Constitution." What the Constitution had to do with it, outsides could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted nitch for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare that perfect freedom of the people, to be just no freedom at all.

Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people to exclude slavery, voted down? Plainly enough now, the adoption of it, would have spoiled the nitch for the Dred Scott decision.

 … These things look like the cautious patting and petting of a spirited horse, preparatory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he may give the rider a fall.

 … We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different potions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen,- Stephen, Franklin, Roger and James [Senator Douglas, former President Pierce, Supreme Court Chief Taney, and incumbent President Buchanan], for instance-and we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortieses exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few-not omitting even scaffolding-or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared to yet bring such piece in-in such a case, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first lick was struck.

 … In what cases the power of the states is so restrained by the U.S. Constitution is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the territories was left open in the Nebraska act. Put that and that together, and we have another nice little nitch, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to exclude slavery from its limits.

And this may be expected if the doctrine of "care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up," shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made.

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States.

Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown.

We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free; and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State.

To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation

What the South was fighting for, then, was not States' Rights, but "Southern Rights", which had nothing to do with States' Rights or with human rights or with any other kind of rights at all. For it meant the the (covert and devious) end of cooperation with the North's free-soilers, the end of bringing, or outright owning of, slaves North of the Mason-Dixon line, and thus the court-imposed (We had nothing to do with that, but now all of us have no choice, sad to say, but obey) expansion of "the peculiar institution."

 This eventually gave rise to the Republican party's platform that slavery would be allowed to continue in the states where it existed (Northern Republicans, mainly, defending states rights, again, in this case of… the South!) but that it should not be extended into the territories, just as it had been prohibited for decades.

The South, or rather the Democratic party, had long dominated all three branches of government and could not tolerate the loss of power, even if only temporary.  As Harry Jaffa notes, "the numbers of federal offices held by Southerners were far out of proportion to the number and size of the Southern states." They included "the principle embassies" … "both army and navy" … "the executive department" … "Southern presidents" and "the judges of the Supreme Court"

With the 1860 election of a ghastly Republican, the fire-eaters and locofocos went berserk and decided to tear America apart for the following four years. (Hmm… Where have we seen that — if, fortunately, with less bloody consequences — in more recent times?)

It is mind-boggling to read the South's hysterical reactions to Lincoln's first inaugural speech — with appeals to bonds of affection, the mystic chords of memory, battlefields and patriot graves, living hearts and hearthstones, the chorus of the Union, and the better angels of our nature — styling it hateful and replete with provocations. (Call it LDS (Lincoln Derangement Syndrome).)

This is evidence that Dinesh D'Souza is right, needless to say, when he points out that it is (deliberately) misleading to call the Civil War a conflict between North and South, between Yankees and Rebs, when in fact it was a struggle between the Democrats (in the North as well as in the South), on the one hand, and the Republicans (in the North alone), on the other.

Plus ça change…

Related: • What Caused Secession and Ergo the Civil War? Was It Slavery and/or States' Rights? Or Wasn't It Rather Something Else — the Election of a Ghastly Republican to the White House?
• Wondering Why Slavery Persisted for Almost 75 Years After the Founding of the USA? According to Lincoln, the Democrat Party's "Principled" Opposition to "Hate Speech"
• Why Does Nobody Ever Fret About Scandinavia's — Dreadful — 19th-C Slavery Conditions?
• The Confederate Flag: Another Brick in the Leftwing Activists' (Self-Serving) Demonization of America and Rewriting of History
How to Prevent America from Becoming a Totalitarian State
• Inside of a month, Democrats have redefined riots and election challenges from the highest form of patriotism to an attack on democracy — And by “democracy”, they mean the Democrat Party

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