Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Confederate History Moment

A hat tip to Dr. Neill Payne, a dear friend Presbyterian elder, for blogging this article about Catholicism and the Old South by Gary Potter posted at

This meaty article not only chronicles the close ties between the American South and Roman Catholicism as well as recounting the wartime relationship between the Confederate States government and the Vatican (especially between the Jefferson Davis family and Pius IX). The article also has some good information repudiating the popular mythology regarding the so-called Civil War as it is commonly taught in politically-correct textbooks and school resources.

One irony this article points out (something that I had read a long time ago, but had forgotten about) involves slavery, the City of Richmond, emancipation, and the Union occupation. Here is the excerpt:

"One case will suffice to illustrate the immensity of Northern hypocrisy in the matter of slavery and race. Outside the South, few today know that Gen. Robert E. Lee freed his slaves before the War Between the States broke out. Even fewer know that Julia Grant, wife of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, still owned three slaves at the end of the war. Two of them were rented out. The third, a female also named Julia, was kept by Mrs. Grant as a maid. When Richmond fell and the war was effectively over, Mrs. Grant traveled down there from Washington, D.C., to visit her husband. She took Julia with her. Thus, at that moment, the only slave in the former Confederate capital who was not freed belonged to the wife of the commanding general of the Union forces!

That is the kind of small but illuminating fact that is kept obscured by writers and others who must distort or hide true past reality in order to fabricate a history on which to base a present and future shaped according to their own idea of what they should be."

Once again, you can read the whole article here.

Some outstanding reading as we round out Confederate History and Heritage Month.


Alexander said...

Father Hollywood,

I was wondering if you have ever read the book mentioned at the end of this blog post?

Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation by John Majewski

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Alexander:

I have not read that book, but from the synopsis you have provided, there's nothing new here.

The CSA was at war its entire existence. They did suspended habeas corpus - they just did so constitutionally, with Congress doing it, not with the president doing it (the way it was done in the USA).

The CSA and the USA had virtually identical Constitutions. The issue was, and is, state sovereignty - which is a check and balance against centralization.

In a federation where states are compelled to remain in at gunpoint, there is simply no check-and-balance against Big Government.

The USA took that away from the states, not legally, mind you, but by force (hence the tenth amendment movement, tea parties, etc.) whereas the states that formed the CSA guarded their sovereignty. That's the difference.

All the smoke and mirrors in the world can't obscure that fact.

Have you read either this book:

or this one:

Or this one: ?

These are written from quite a diversity of authors, politically and otherwise. Good stuff.

Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

Interesting article. I am also sure that Mrs. Grant was the only General's wife in Confederate territory whose husband did not take up arms against his country.

As President, Grant was very forward thinking on racial matters, signing the 1875 Civil Rights bill into law, giving equal access to public places for freedmen. This inspite of the deplorable attitudes found even in the north.

Grant further praised the 15th Ammendment as the greatest advance made in the history of the USA and cautioned the nation to withhold no privilege of citizenship to these new citizens.

True - Grant explored the notion of relocating freedmen to certain Central American contries - but did so only out of a concern that relocation would make them more masters of their own destiny.

As a general, and as the war progressed, Grant came to believe that crushing the institution of slavery was essential to union. He told Bismarck that it was providential that the war lasted as long, and assumed the magnitude it did, in order to kill slavery once and for all. Once the slaveocracy took up arms against their country, it was inconceivable to permit slavery to continue. A short war might have kept slavery intact, and ensured another war.

As it was, Slavery was ended with the 13th Ammendment, the only place in the *entire* constitution that the institution was named by name: Slavery.

Our country is united, thanks to the military genius of US Grant, who led the Federal forces under termendous political and military disadvantages.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:


Once Independence was declared, General Washington was not under oath or obligation to Great Britain. That is the meaning of the word "absolved" (absolvo) in our Declaration of Secession of 1776.

My ancestors who shivered at Valley Forge under Washington are traitors? Ditto for my folks who suffered at Point Lookout prison. These were not merely literary figures or historical asterisks - these were real people from our families.

I have heard some Roman Catholics similarly criticize Luther for "breaking his vows" - both to remain celibate, and obedience to his superiors in the RC Church. I don't buy their nonsense either.

Or to put it in a contemporary light, I once swore an oath to the Constitution of Ohio. I am no longer a resident or citizen of Ohio. Therefore, I have since been released from that obligation.

When Virginia seceded (in 1776 and in 1861), Virginians were no longer bound by those former oaths and obligations. And that isn't a matter of opinion, it's simply a fact. Confederates captures were given POW status (though they were in fact deliberately tortured), recognized internationally as belligerents, and were not tried for treason after the war (in fact, Davis was denied a trial because Chase was afraid he'd win his case!).

Disagreement and even sharp debate is fine (and interesting!), but you are simply being insulting - and it isn't the first time. If you, as a visitor here, can't be respectful of my ancestors and argue your case without being rude and apart from the "they fired on their own country" canard, you won't have the privilege to post here any more.

Or, as we say in New Orleans: "Be nice or leave!"

Beyond that, students of American history know of the Grant Administration scandals, the disaster that was "reconstruction," and the horrific record of the generals who wore the blue who slaughtered Indians after the war, including Gen. Sheridan's quip that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" and Gen. O.O. Howard's merciless heroic campaign against women and children and old men of the Nez Perce. And then there is that whole Custer thing...

When I think of "civil rights" I don't think of pinning medals on Union generals. But then again, it's a useful mythology.

Great story, shame about the truth...

Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

Hmm, I can't get the Fort Pillow Massacre out of my mind. There is sin on all sides.

Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

As for the American Revolution, England actually committed the acts enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. The fear of the south in 1860 was that Lincoln "might" do certain things he promised "not" to do. In 1776 you had a "Unanimous Declaration" among "ALL" colonies. In 1860 it was only the south. I don't see where the American Revolution and the Civil War can be so compared.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:

Not all colonies. Upper Canada and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were two British provinces of North America that the other 13 wanted (and even later on invaded) to join the new confederation. But this is kind of typical of Americans to forget that there are other North Americans besides us.

And if Pennsylvania or Massachusetts wanted to stay in Union with Great Britain, so what? Interestingly, when the Constitution was ratified in 1789, Rhode Island and North Carolina dragged their feet and were independent nations for a while (RI for nearly two years - even engaging in national diplomacy between its president and U.S. president Washington) - another inconvenient truth that gets in the way of the Great Myth.

And on a side note, it was a real eye-opener to visit the National War Museum in Ottawa and learn about the War of 1812 from the Canadian perspective (also one of my first dates with my Canadian wife). Studying history from all sides is not in the interest of the government, and hence government schools are rather biased in their presentation of history - especially in this day and age of PC.

The American revolution wasn't much of a revolution. There was no attempt to guillotine the king or oust the royal family. The colonies/states simply withdrew their consent to that central government, and left.

And really, their grievances were relatively minor compared to today. The tea tax was 3%, there was no income tax, and the British were using troops to defend our colonies militarily. But the reasons don't really matter. If a state doesn't want to be part of the union any more - even if they just don't like the color of the Interstate Highway signs - so be it.

I believe the states have the right to govern themselves. I agree with our founders on that. I agree with my Confederate ancestors on that - and I don't think we need 50 states to secede to make secession legal - though that may well be where things are headed!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:

As far as Ft. Pillow goes, there are indeed two sides of the story that are seldom given a fair hearing. There was a lot of testimony that indicated that the POWs, after they had thrown down their weapons, took them up again when they heard re-enforcements arriving. When you do that, you cease being a POW and become fair game.

But then again, we may not ever really get to the bottom of it since there was no wikileaks video showing unarmed people (even children and those seeking to aid the wounded) being shot like fish in a barrel. I'm sure such things happened on both sides. But in general, our textbooks demonize the South and give the invaders a free pass. The "it's not fascism when we do it" defense was certainly in effect in the 1860s so long as the "it" is done under the stars and stripes.

A really fascinating read is the now out-of-print "The Uncivil War: Union Army and Navy Excesses in the Official Records" by Thomas Bland Keys. The author simply sites disturbing passages from the OR ("official records") records in the hands of the Union soldiers themselves of the rape, pillage, conflagrations, desecrations of churches, including atrocities committed against free and enslaved blacks, against women and children, and even against a Catholic orphanage run by nuns in Columbia, SC.

Pretty chilling stuff. And this is just a sampling of things the U.S. admitted to - and in many cases, boasted about. But then again, these weren't humans, they were Southerners, Untermenschen to be ethnically cleansed - not much different than the infants in their cradles whose throats were slit by Nat Turner and his slave revolt. "They had it coming" as I've been told many times.

Based on the Shenendoah valley campaign alone, using only his own words, U.S. Grant would have been hanged as a war criminal had the Confederacy won the war.

But for as long as I have been debating these issues, I have heard my glassy-eyed opponents just shrug and cite Sherman: "War is hell." That absolves Sherman and his cohorts, I guess. It's the ultimate ethic of relativism - any act done under the federal flag is moral, and act done by an opponent of the federal flag is immoral.

See how well that works out?

Father Hollywood said...

As a postscript to my above remarks, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were also North American provinces that remained loyal to Britain, even after the secession of the 13 colonies that became the United States in 1776.

There was hope that the French Canadians would join the "rebel" cause and take up arms against the king (there were even a few attempts to "liberate" Montreal), but the French-speaking North Americans surprised the Americans by remaining loyal to British rule.

They didn't want to secede, and it was their right to stay put. The fact that they didn't doesn't now make our own secession invalid, illegal, or immoral.

And of course, this "rebellion" led to the "balkanization" of North America and the "tragedy" that we're not all under one super-duper-uber-ginormous-continental-mega-state (since bigger is always better).


Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

I've never said "bigger is better." Rather I have said that the 50 states are well served by having a central govermnent. That *is* constitutional, US and CS as a matter of fact. Does that at least get me a passing nod from the SCV?

I've never disagreed with you on the dangers of expanding government. It is killing our country. Rather, I disagree with you that the CSA is an appropriate model, and expressed concern that the 10th Ammendment has a checkered history in how it was used to resist the Civil Rights Movement.

In your opinion, is it possible to deal with contemporary problems *without* making an approving appeal to the CSA?

Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

Salmon Chase was right in not prosecuting Jefferson Davis. It was wrong to single him out for such inexcusable punishment. Whatever happened to: "Malice toward none, charity for all....?"

While Chase feared ambiguity on succession in the US Constitution, it was very clear in the CSA Constitution preamble: "Permanent Federal Government." That clause was never tested, so we'll never know what the CSA would have done if, say in 1890 , Louisiana suceeded for some reason or another

Even General Grant, at Vicksburg, (I think), parolled all his POWs and sent them home on the promise that they would not again take up arms against the United States. I sure hope they honored their pledge, but I haven't given that matter any study. Grant also gave food and generous terms to Lee, but you know all that stuff...

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:

I'm curious about your "checkered history" assertion.

The 10th amendment simply articulates the relationship between federal and state governments. That's all. It reflects the founders concern of an over-powerful central government (and their worst nightmares have come true).

States rights and nullification were used, for example, to work around the fugitive slave law. States rights equally protects gun rights and marijuana, gay marriage, and pro-life legislation. It simply limits federal power (as does the ultimate check and balance of secession). But now, with the states having been neutered, the central government is too top heavy. That's because the 10th has been ignored.

Case in point: abortion - the ultimate civil rights matter. Federal usurpation is responsible for forcing my state to have legal baby-killing centers. All across the former Confederate States abortion would be illegal if the US government did not step on the states. But that is what they do. It's tyranny, and it's deadly. It has resulted in a holocaust.

If Ohioans (and other northerners) want abortion, there isn't anything I can do about it. But Ohioans (and other northerners), using the mechanism of the federal government, are able to force their will on Louisiana and other "Bible Belt" states.

The result has been far more devastating than slavery and segregation (which could have been fixed by truly free markets), the result has been a legacy of 40,000,000 dead babies, and no legal recourse to pro-life states. They can't nullify, they can't interpose, they can't even threaten to secede. No appeal to the 10th will work. That is the legacy of Mr. Lincoln's war.

I hope you think it was worth it.

After all, "Honest" Abe said that a house divided can't stand. According to that principle, we must have legal abortion in all 50 states - regardless of the will of the people of those states.

But thanks be to God people are waking up. They are taking off their public school blinders and actually reading history again. I do believe we will have a pro-life Louisiana again - with or without the United States.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:

You write:

"Whatever happened to: "Malice toward none, charity for all....?"

Ha! Good one. At least you have a sense of humor about the whole thing!

You write:

"While Chase feared ambiguity on succession in the US Constitution, it was very clear in the CSA Constitution preamble: "Permanent Federal Government." That clause was never tested, so we'll never know what the CSA would have done if, say in 1890 , Louisiana suceeded for some reason or another"

You are misconstruing the term "permanent." The original CS Constitution was hastily put together and only adopted "provisionally." Davis was the "provisional" president pending a permanent Constitution. He could have been replaced in the next government, but wasn't.

That original 1861 government was the "provisional" government pending the adoption of a "permanent" government. And that was established (the "final draft" if you will) and went into effect on Washington's Birthday 1862 (which is the date inscribed on the CS Great Seal). The clock started on Davis's 6 year presidential term in 1862 (not 1861), even though he was already the provisional president.

"Permanent" simply means opposite of the "temporary" Constitution of 1861. That's all it means. The states had to ratify the Constitution, and had the Constitution outlawed secession, they would not have ratified it. Not even the federal constitution outlawed secession.

Moreover, the permanence of the central government has nothing to do with the withdrawing members. When the American states seceded from Britain, England's continuous dynasty (in effect since 800AD) continued unabated. To use another analogy: I'm a member of the Westbank Amateur Radio Club. And if I don't renew my dues, they will somehow soldier on without me. ;-)

The Confederates absolutely honored their paroles. But that has nothing to do with the legality or constitutionality of their secessions and the valor they displayed in defending their nascent country, states, and homes from invasion.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jack:

You write:

"I've never said "bigger is better." Rather I have said that the 50 states are well served by having a central govermnent. That *is* constitutional, US and CS as a matter of fact. Does that at least get me a passing nod from the SCV?"

Well, considering the large number of SCV guys who are decorated US war heroes (the South has always exceeded any other region in supplying blood and toil for American wars), I would think that gets more than a "passing nod."

We love the Constitution. We just with we had a federal government that followed it. A federal government is good - if it stays in its box. It almost never does. I mean, how much more usurpation are you willing to go along with? What is there that extends beyond Washington's reach? They are suffocating the states and the people. They are choking us out worse than London ever did.

You ask: "In your opinion, is it possible to deal with contemporary problems *without* making an approving appeal to the CSA?"

I don't think so. History doesn't happen in a vacuum. You can't examine the issue of states rights and the usurpation of the federal government without considering American history. Though Jeffrey Rogers Hummel agrees with you about slavery and secession (see his interesting book: "Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men,") he identifies the Union victory both as the source of Big Government, and the cause of its unchecked growth.

You can't cut off a major check-and-balance (states rights) and then expect there not to be an effect. Our founders were right to establish a republic based on competing powers and a fundamental distrust of central authority. Neutering the states has not only birthed Big Government, it coddles it and fuels it, like hot water feeds a hurricane. It is a juggernaut, and only by studying history and tracing the threads back to the source can we hope to unravel it, and try to put the monster back in the box.

Just my two cents...