A Book With No Credibility–Chapter Six

In Chapter Six, Adams continues his infatuation with what the British, who weren’t part of the war, thought about the American Civil War [and he continues his galactically incompetent “scholarship”].  In this chapter he tries to juxtapose Charles Dickens with John Stuart Mill.  He says, “Both took great interest in what was going on in America.  Since they were living in Britain, they did not have to worry about going to jail for expressing themselves.  In America, at this time, criticizing one’s government was a dangerous undertaking.”  [p. 85]  As we’ve seen earlier in this series, that claim is way overblown.

Adams claims, “In the recently published biography of Mary Boykin Chesnut, a Southern woman whose diaries caught the attention of historians soon after the Civil War, she writes of the terrible financial losses her family suffered and of the horrendous debts they incurred.  Yet, in spite of this financial ordeal for a once wealthy plantation family, one of the family obligations Mary Chesnut lists was to seventeen ex-slaves who had to be cared for in their old age, even though they had been emancipated with the Thirteenth Amendment and were no longer a legal obligation.  But they were a moral obligation, and however financially distressed the family was, these elderly ex-slaves would be taken care of.  No such moral obligation existed for the workers in London or elsewhere.  No slave was human rubbish like the disabled or elderly workers in the free societies of that day.”  [p. 86]

So now we can add apologist for slavery to Adams’ résumé.  If slavery was such a great thing, and if slave owners were such wonderful humanitarians, why did so many slaves run off to Union lines during the war?  Chesnut’s diary ends on August 2, 1865, so the claim can’t be regarding her writing in that diary.  Perhaps it’s from a letter, but given Adams’ track record and the fact that he didn’t name the biography or provide any other citation for it, there is a good chance this is a fabrication.

Regarding Charles Dickens, Adams writes, “Dickens concluded that slavery was not a reason for the Civil War, and this view was recently highlighted by a Dickens biographer, Peter Ackroyd:  ‘The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.  Dickens condemned slavery as an evil for the slave, an evil for the slave owner, and an evil for the white working class in the South.”  [p. 89]  His footnote puts the quote on page 271 of Ackroyd’s book, but this is a typo.  The actual quote is on page 291.

Since Adams brought up Dickens so many times, and since he brought up Peter Ackroyd’s biography, let’s consult that biography to see if there is some reason behind Dickens’ feelings.

In the 1840s, Dickens traveled to the United States, and he had a complaint to air.  “He felt some consonance with this new country.  Yet it was not to last, and there were warning signals already when in his first major speech he touched upon the question of international copyright, by politely alluding to the fact that his work and that of other British authors was being generally pirated by American publishers and American magazines without any recompense being paid.  He did not mention the subject before his visit, but the fact that he raised it so soon suggests that it had been very much on his mind; later he was indignantly to deny that it was the primary reason for his visit to America, but the very fact that he did not mention the subject in advance to anyone might only suggest that the prospect of earning more money from his American sales was one that he was wary of mentioning for fear of seeming mercenary.  Certainly it was not the message which the Americans wished to hear from the great young novelist.”  [Peter Ackroyd, Dickens, pp. 345-346]  Any guesses as to in which section of the United States these publishing houses were located?

Ackroyd tells us, “From Worcester they traveled a little further south to Hartford where once more in a speech at a banquet in his honour he emphasized the democratic spirit of his writings, as if uniting himself with his audience, and then launched into a plea for international copyright, using the spectre of a broken and exhausted Walter Scott as an example of a writer who was unjustly deprived of his rightful income.  The fate of Scott, then, had stayed in his mind–it was the sad end of that novelist which had first warned Dickens of the perils of overproduction and thus led indirectly to the American trip itself.  And now he employed him once more.  ‘My blood so boiled as I thought of the monstrous injustice that I felt as if I were twelve feet high when I thrust it down their throats.’  His American friends had tried gently to dissuade him from pursuing the theme of copyright while in the United States, and already there were paragraphs of adverse criticism appearing in reference to Dickens’s apparent determination to bite the hands that were applauding him.  The point was that magazines and publishers alike ‘pirated’ any available material from England, and thought themselves justified in doing so; their argument was that the spread of Dickens’s writings through the land of the free and the brave was more important than any monetary reward to which, in some theoretical sense, he might be entitled.  They might also have pointed to the current economic depression as a hindrance to the export of American funds.  But we have already seen how important money, and monetary fair play, were to him–and how easily he felt himself to be cheated and misused; what he was doing in America was to address the whole publishing industry as if it were Richard Bentley writ large.”  [Ibid., pp. 350-351]  So Dickens took deep offense at this injustice to him and it ate at him during his trip.

Ackroyd continues, “What in particular distressed him?  The fact was that he was also experiencing the reverse side of fame, both in the open way in which the newspapers discussed his life or his behaviour and in the aggressive manner with which they attacked his opinions on international copyright.  ‘You must drop that, Charlie,’ the Boston Morning Post said, or you will be dished; it smells of the shop-rank.’  Dickens, for all his apparent composure in the face of ‘enthoosymoosy’ or indeed its reverse, was in fact acutely and painfully sensitive to anything written about him; he always professed not to read the reviews of his books, for example, but his reluctance was largely due to the fact that he could not bear to be criticized.  Now, for the first time in his life, after years of praise and fame and success, he was actually being lampooned in public.  Certain newspapers, for example, began to speculate that his motives for coming to America were simply mercenary, that he was only interested in obtaining royalties from his works, that he was not a gentleman but merely the ‘son of a Haberdasher’.  Some writers would have been able to laugh off such attacks, as merely the customary barbs of the infamous against the famous, but Dickens was not of that sturdy breed.  He winced under every attack.  ‘I vow to Heaven,’ he wrote to one of his American friends, ‘that the scorn and indignation I have felt under this unmanly and ungenerous treatment has been to me an amount of agony such as I never experienced since my birth.’  Curiously, however, he seems to have expressed his feelings to no one else–and, he said, he had not even told his wife.  Such was the astonishing reserve of the man.  He had not spoken to anyone about the blacking house where he worked as a child, either.  And now he was being humiliated and rejected all over again.  It is easy to forget that, in this record of achievement and of fame, he was still a young man–he was only thirty years old–with all the susceptibility of a  young man.  He had confidently expected that in America he would be hailed as the emblem of radical social change and liberal democracy; he expected to be as greatly loved here as he was in England.  And, up to a point, of course he was.  But he did not expect, and he could not endure, the public attacks.  His anger and his strange reserve about that anger might arguably have had another dimension also:  in the attacks upon his mercenary motives in appealing for international copyright, and in the suspicion of hypocrisy which was cast over his behaviour, did he perhaps recognise some truth?  A truth which he preferred to conceal even from himself?”  [Ibid., pp. 352-353]  So not only was Dickens rankled about money that was taken from him through sales of his books without royalties being paid to him, but he was also publicly humiliated and attacked by New England newspapers.  And he kept his rage about this inside, burning at him.

Ackroyd also tells us, “In modern terminology Dickens was a ‘racist’ of the most egregious kind, a fact that ought to give pause to those who persist in believing that he was necessarily the epitome of all that was decent and benevolent in the previous century.  He came close to supporting the Confederate side in the American Civil War, and on one occasion observed in a letter that ‘… the old, untidy, incapable, lounging, shambling black serves you as a free man.  Free of course he ought to be; but the stupendous absurdity of making him a voter glares out of every roll of his eye, stretch of his mouth, and bump of his head.  I have a strong impression that the race must fade out of the States very fast.’ ”  [Ibid., p. 544]  Dickens is not the personification of virtue that Adams would like us to believe.

We get to the part Adams quoted now.  Here is the quote in context:  “On 11 October a few hundred blacks attacked the Court House in Morant Bay, Jamaica, and Governor Eyre declared martial law, in the course of which 439 were shot or hanged while 600 were flogged.  Eyre had feared a rebellion and had acted accordingly, but liberal opinion in England was incensed by his behaviour; as a result, he was suspended while a commission of inquiry visited Jamaica.  Those who attacked Eyre were essentially the orthodox liberals of the period, among them Huxley and Mill.  Those in vociferous support of Eyre included Tennyson, Ruskin, Carlyle and, of course, Dickens.  His view on such matters has already been described, and he was violently opposed to what he now called ‘that platform-sympathy with the black–or the Native, or the Devil …’ and believed that it was wrong to deal with ‘… Hottentots, as if they were identical with men in clean shirts at Camberwell …’  It was the same spirit which led him implicitly to support the South in the Civil War even then being fought, principally on the grounds that the Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.  Dickens was notoriously unsentimental about such matters and it ought to be remembered, too, that in his support of Eyre, and in his attacks upon the liberals of the period, he was merely ringing the variations on attitudes which he had held as a young man.  His early Sketches, for example, are often directed against blinkered missionaries who are more concerned with the plight of natives abroad than the poor at home.  It is one of the most significant features of Dickens’s life that his real opinions and real values never changed.”  [Ibid., p. 971]

Dickens, then, had several reasons for being against the United States in the Civil War, and those reasons had nothing to do with a calm, rational consideration of the information and the issues involved, as Adams would like us to believe.

Adams wants us to believe, “As for Mill’s assertion that the South was ‘fighting for slavery,’ here he gets the facts of who started the war, and why, all mixed up.  The supreme commander of the Confederate forces, Robert E. Lee, hated slavery and said so.  He was offered command of all the Union armies but turned it down because these armies were to be used to invade his homeland of Virginia, and other states.  But he accepted command of a much smaller force, the Armies of Northern Virginia, to defend his native land from invasion.  That, Mr. Mill, is what the Southern armies were fighting for–to expel a foreign invader.”  [P. 94]  This is Adams being typically disingenuous and spewing poor history.  Adams, of course, is ignoring all that was said by the secessionists that they wanted their independence in order to protect slavery.  Lee did not accept command of “the Armies of Northern Virginia.”  He took command of the Army of Northern Virginia only after Joseph Johnston was wounded.

The claim that Lee “hated slavery and said so” comes from his 1858 letter to his wife, Mary Custis Lee.  In the oft-quoted letter to his wife he talks about the conflict over slavery, and there is no doubt that he is in favor of the proslavery side.  “The views of the Pres: of the Systematic & progressive efforts of certain people of the North, to interfere with & change the domestic institutions of the South, are truthfully & faithfully expressed.   The Consequences of their plans & purposes are also clearly set forth, & they must also be aware, that their object is both unlawful & entirely foreign to them & their duty; for which they are irresponsible & unaccountable; & Can only be accomplished by them through the agency of a Civil & Servile war.”

Full text here:  http://fair-use.org/robert-e-lee/letter-to-his-wife-on-slavery

Reading this letter, I see someone supporting slavery as it existed at that time, even though he calls it an “evil.”  He believes it’s much more of an evil to whites than to blacks.  He calls it a “painful instruction” for the blacks as a race.  He believes freeing the slaves at that point in time would be a greater evil.  “Although the Abolitionist must know this, & must See that he has neither the right or power of operating except by moral means & suasion, & if he means well to the slave, he must not Create angry feelings in the Master; that although he may not approve the mode which it pleases Providence to accomplish its purposes, the result will nevertheless be the same; that the reasons he gives for interference in what he has no Concern, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbors when we disapprove their Conduct; Still I fear he will persevere in his evil Course.”

How many more generations of people, how many millions more people must suffer in bondage?  Lee doesn’t really care.
“How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild& melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy. This influence though slow, is sure. The doctrines & miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years, to Convert but a small part of the human race, & even among Christian nations, what gross errors still exist! While we see the Course of the final abolition of human Slavery is onward, & we give it the aid of our prayers & all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who sees the end; who Chooses to work by slow influences; & with whom two thousand years are but as a Single day.”

Lee was in fact a supporter of slavery.  In January of 1865 he wrote to Andrew Hunter, “Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would deprecate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. I should therefore prefer to rely upon our white population to preserve the ratio between our forces and those of the enemy, which experience has shown to be safe. But in view of the preparations of our enemies, it is our duty to provide for continued war and not for a battle or a campaign, and I fear that we cannot accomplish this without overtaxing the capacity of our white population.”  [Robert E. Lee to Andrew Hunter, 11 Jan 1865]

Full letter here:  http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/robert-e-lee-to-andrew.html

As I read this letter I see a supporter of slavery who has reluctantly come to the conclusion that some slaves will have to be freed to keep the rest in chains.  However, he does recognize it is possible this will lead to the collapse of the entire institution:  “If it end in subverting slavery it will be accomplished by ourselves, and we can devise the means of alleviating the evil consequences to both races.  I think, therefore, we must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves at the risk of the effects which must be produced upon our social institutions.”

His plan, though, is to only free those who would fight for the confederacy and later their families:  “There have been formidable armies composed of men having no interest in the cause for which they fought beyond their pay or the hope of plunder. But it is certain that the surest foundation upon which the fidelity of an army can rest, especially in a service which imposes peculiar hardships and privations, is the personal interest of the soldier in the issue of the contest. Such an interest we can give our negroes by giving immediate freedom to all who enlist, and freedom at the end of the war to the families of those who discharge their duties faithfully (whether they survive or not), together with the privilege of residing at the South.”

Coming at this late date, January of 1865, it is obvious he has exhausted every other means of filling the ranks and this is his last option.  “I should therefore prefer to rely upon our white population to preserve the ratio between our forces and those of the enemy, which experience has shown to be safe.”  Lee, a slave owner himself with slaves he had inherited from his mother, supported slavery.

As to the claim that they were fighting “to expel a foreign invader,” leaving aside the fact that the Union army wasn’t foreign why did that invasion occur in the first place?  Because the confederate states seceded and formed the confederacy in order to preserve slavery, and they fired on Fort Sumter in order to try to enforce that secession for the purpose of preserving slavery.  Those who joined the confederate armies knew what the confederacy was all about.

Adams then writes, “Mill is correct in pointing out that when the solid South seceded, a moderate tariff was in place; the ultra-high Morrill Tariff was not put in place until March 1861, after the main seceding states had left the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.  But here again Mill had not done any research.  You could say he hadn’t done his homework (in contrast to Dickens, who had).  A major plank in the platform of the Republican party back in August 1860 was to adopt a high protective tariff as a solution to a moderate recession that had hit Northern manufacturers.  Even many Northern Democrats (e.g., President Buchanan) favored a high tariff, with Buchanan actually signing the Morrill Tariff two days before Lincoln took office.”  [p. 94]  This passage is actually laughable.  As we’ve seen, Dickens didn’t “do his homework.”  Dickens had an axe to grind and a grudge he was nursing against New England and Northern publishers.  As to the 1860 Republican Platform, let’s take a look at it:

Resolved, That we, the delegated representatives of the Republican electors of the United States, in  Convention assembled, in discharge of the duty we owe to our constituents and our country, unite in the following  declarations:

1. That the history of the nation, during the last four years, has fully established the propriety and necessity of the  organization and perpetuation of the Republican party, and that the causes which called it into existence are  permanent in their nature, and now, more than ever before, demand its peaceful and constitutional triumph.

2. That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the  Federal Constitution, “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable  rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are  instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” is essential to the preservation of  our Republican institutions; and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States, and the Union of the States,  must and shall be preserved.

3. That to the Union of the States this nation owes its unprecedented increase in population, its surprising development  of material resources, its rapid augmentation of wealth, its happiness at home and its honor abroad; and we hold in  abhorrence all schemes for Disunion, come from whatever source they may: And we congratulate the country that no  Republican member of Congress has uttered or countenanced the threats of Disunion so often made by Democratic  members without rebuke and with applause from their political associates; and we denounce those threats of Disunion,  in case of a popular overthrow of their ascendency, as denying the vital principles of a free government, and as an  avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant People sternly to rebuke and forever  silence.

4. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control  its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which  the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of  the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

5. That the present Democratic Administration has far exceeded our worst apprehensions, in its measureless  subserviency to the exactions of a sectional interest, as especially evinced in its desperate exertions to force the  infamous Lecompton Constitution upon the protesting people of Kansas; in construing the personal relation between  master and servant to involve an unqualified property in persons; in its attempted enforcement, everywhere, on land  and sea, through the intervention of Congress and of the Federal Courts of the extreme pretensions of a purely local  interest; and in its general and unvarying abuse of the power intrusted to it by a confiding people.

6. That the people justly view with alarm the reckless extravagance which pervades every department of the Federal  Government; that a return to rigid economy and accountability is indispensible to arrest the systematic plunder of the  public treasury by favored partisans, while the recent startling developments of frauds and corruptions at the Federal  metropolis, show that an entire change of administration is imperatively demanded.

7. That the new dogma, that the Constitution, of its own force, carries Slavery into any or all of the Territories of the  United States, is a dangerous political heresy, at variance with the explicit provisions of that instrument itself, with  contemporaneous exposition, and with legislative and judicial precedent; is revolutionary in its tendency, and  subversive of the peace and harmony of the country.

8. That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom; That as our Republican fathers,  when they had abolished Slavery in all our national territory, ordained that “no person should be deprived of life,  liberty, or property, without due process of law,” it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is  necessary, to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of  Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the  United States.

9. That we brand the recent re-opening of the African slave-trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by  perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call  upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.

10. That in the recent vetoes, by their Federal Governors, of the acts of the Legislatures of Kansas and Nebraska,  prohibiting Slavery in those Territories, we find a practical illustration of the boasted Democratic principle of Non- Intervention and Popular Sovereignty, embodied in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and a demonstration of the deception  and fraud involved therein.

11. That Kansas should, of right, be immediately admitted as a State under the Constitution recently formed and  adopted by her people, and accepted by the House of Representatives.

12. That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Government by duties upon imports, sound policy  requires  such an adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interest of the whole  country; and we commend that policy of national exchanges which secures to the working men liberal wages, to  agriculture renumerative prices, to mechanics and manufactures an adequate reward for their skill, labor, and  enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.

13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others of the Public Lands held by actual settlers, and against any  view of he Homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers or suppliants for  public bounty; and we demand the passage by Congress of the complete and satisfactory Homestead measure which  has already passed the House.

14. That the Republican party is opposed to any change in our Naturalization Laws or any State legislation by which  the rights of citizenship hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired; and in  favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both  at home and abroad.

15. That appropriations by Congress for River and Harbor improvements of a National character, required for the  accommodation and security of an existing commerce, are authorized by the Constitution, and justified by the  obligations of Government to protect the lives and property of its citizens.

16. That a Railroad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded by the interest of the whole country; that the  Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction; and that, as preliminary thereto, a  daily Overland Mail should be promply established.

17. Finally, having thus set forth our distinctive principles and views, we invite the coöperation of all citizens,  however differing on other questions, who substantially agree with us in their affirmance and support.

So, after declaring all men are created equal, after declaring themselves against disunion, after promising not to interfere with slavery in the states where it exists, after condemning proslavery actions of the Democrats, after condemning profligate spending on the part of the Democrats, after not one but two planks dealing with cutting off expansion of slavery into the territories, after condemning the international slave trade, after talking about keeping slavery out of Kansas and Nebraska territories, and after calling for the admission of Kansas to the Union as a free state, Adams considers this to be a “major plank”:  “That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Government by duties upon imports, sound policy  requires  such an adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interest of the whole  country; and we commend that policy of national exchanges which secures to the working men liberal wages, to  agriculture renumerative prices, to mechanics and manufactures an adequate reward for their skill, labor, and  enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.”  And only the first part of the plank deals with the tariff.  The last half deals with securing good wages to workers and good prices to farmers and entrepreneurs.  And Adams would like us to believe this was the most important thing to the Republicans.  Sure.  Anyone who writes anything puts their most important point almost at the end of what they’re writing so people who stop reading early can miss it.

Adams writes, “On 11 October 1860, the outspoken Charleston Mercury, commenting on the election of a Republican administration, charged that the Republicans would ‘plunder the South for the benefit of the North, by a new Protective Tariff.’  South Carolina seceded because Carolinians knew what was in store for them, what they called in that editorial ‘sectional schemes of appropriation.’ ”  [pp. 94-95]  Oh, really?  Let’s take a look at that particular editorial, shall we?

A few days since we endeavored to show that the pictures of ruin and desolation to the South, which the submissionists to Black Republican domination were so continually drawing, to “fright us from our propriety,” were unreal and false. We propose now to reverse the picture, and to show what will probably be the consequences of a submission of the Southern States, to the rule of Abolitionism at Washington, in the persons of Messrs. LINCOLN and HAMLIN, should they be elected to the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States.

1. The first effect of the submission of the South, to the installation of Abolitionists in the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States, must be a powerful consolidation of the strength of the Abolition party at the North. Success generally strengthens. If, after all the threats of resistance and disunion, made in Congress and out of Congress, the Southern States sink down into acquiescence, the demoralization of the South will be complete. Add the patronage resulting from the control of ninety-four thousand offices, and the expenditure of eighty millions of money annually, and they must be irresistible in controlling the General Government.

2. To plunder the South for the benefit of the North, by a new Protective Tariff, will be one of their first measures of Northern sectional dominion; and, on the other hand, to exhaust the treasury by sectional schemes of appropriation, will be a congenial policy.

3. Immediate danger will be brought to slavery, in all the Frontier States. When a party is enthroned at Washington, in the Executive and Legislative departments of the Government, whose creed it is, to repeal the Fugitive Slave Laws, the under-ground railroad, will become an over-ground railroad. The tenure of slave property will be felt to be weakened; and the slaves will be sent down to the Cotton States for sale, and the Frontier States enter on the policy of making themselves Free States.

4. With the control of the Government of the United States, and an organized and triumphant North to sustain them, the Abolitionists will renew their operations upon the South with increased courage. The thousands in every country, who look up to power, and make gain out of the future, will come out in support of the Abolition Government. The BROWNLOWS and BOTTS, in the South, will multiply. They will organize; and from being a Union Party, to support an Abolition Government, they will become, like the Government they support, Abolitionists. They will have an Abolition Party in the South, of Southern men. The contest for slavery will no longer be one between the North and the South. It will be in the South, between the people of the South.

5. If, in our present position of power and unitedness, we have the raid of JOHN BROWN—and twenty towns burned down in Texas in one year, by abolitionists—what will be the measures of insurrection and incendiarism, which must follow our notorious and abject prostration to Abolition rule at Washington, with all the patronage of the Federal Government, and a Union organization in the South to support it? Secret conspiracy, and its attendant horrors, with rumors of horrors, will hover over every portion of the South; while, in the language of the Black Republican patriarch—GIDDINGS—they “will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh.”

6. Already there is uneasiness throughout the South, as to the stability of its institution of slavery. But with a submission to the rule of Abolitionists at Washington, thousands of slaveholders will despair of the institution. While the condition of things in the Frontier States will force their slaves on the markets of the Cotton States, the timid in the Cotton States, will also sell their slaves. The general distrust, must affect purchasers. The consequence must be, slave property must be greatly depreciated. We see advertisements for the sale of slaves in some of the Cotton States, for the simple object of getting rid of them; and we know that standing orders for the purchase of slaves in this market have been withdrawn, on account of an anticipated decline of value from the political condition of the country.

7. We suppose, that taking in view all these things, it is not extravagant to estimate, that the submission of the South to the administration of the Federal Government under Messrs. LINCOLN and HAMLIN, must reduce the value of slaves in the South, one hundred dollars each. It is computed that there are four millions, three hundred thousand, slaves in the United States. Here, therefore, is a loss to the Southern people of four hundred and thirty millions of dollars, on their slaves alone. Of course, real estate of all kinds must partake also in the depreciation of slaves.

8. Slave property is the foundation of all property in the South. When security in this is shaken, all other property partakes of its instability. Banks, stocks, bonds, must be influenced. Timid men will sell out and leave the South. Confusion, distrust and pressure must reign.

9. Before Messrs. LINCOLN and HAMLIN can be installed in Washington, as President and Vice-President of the United States, the Southern States can dissolve peaceably (we know what we say) their Union with the North. Mr. LINCOLN and his Abolition cohorts, will have no South to reign over. Their game would be blocked. The foundation of their organization would be taken away; and, left to the tender mercies of a baffled, furious and troubled North, they would be cursed and crushed, as the flagitious cause of the disasters around them. But if we submit, and do not dissolve our union with the North, we make the triumph of our Abolition enemies complete, and enable them to consolidate and wield the power of the North, for our destruction.

10. If the South once submits to the rule of Abolitionists by the General Government, there is, probably, an end of all peaceful separation of the Union. We can only escape the ruin they meditate for the South, by war. Armed with the power of the General Government, and their organizations at the North, they will have no respect for our courage or energy, and they will use the sword for .our subjection. If there is any man in the South who believes that we must separate from the North, we appeal to his humanity, in case Mr. LINCOLN is elected, to dissolve our connection with the North, before the 4th of March next.

11. The ruin of the South, by the emancipation of her slaves, is not like the ruin of any other people. It is not a mere loss of liberty, like the Italians under the BOURBONS. It is not heavy taxation, which must still leave the means of living, or otherwise taxation defeats itself. But it is the loss of liberty, property, home, country—everything that makes life worth having. And this loss will probably take place under circumstances of suffering and horror, unsurpassed in the history of nations. We must preserve our liberties and institutions, under penalties greater than those which impend over any people in the world.

12. Lastly, we conclude this brief statement of the terrors of submission, by declaring, that in our opinion, they are ten-fold greater even than the supposed terrors of disunion.

So let’s get this straight.  In this editorial, the editor says the first effect of Lincoln’s becoming president is consolidation of the strength of the “Abolition party” and the use of patronage by the “Abolition party”  We’re supposed to ignore this in favor of the second point.  We’re also supposed to ignore the rest of the editorial, where the editor says, “Immediate danger will be brought to slavery, in all the Frontier States,” leading to danger to slavery everywhere else; where he says more southern abolitionists will spring up; where he says more abolitionists will try to spur slave insurrections; where he says the stability of slavery will be adversely affected; where he says the value of slaves in the south will be reduce; where he says slave property “is the foundation of all property in the South;” where he says emancipation of slaves will bring about “the ruin of the South.”  We’re supposed to ignore all that.  Actually, Adams wants to ignore it and he thinks we’re too stupid and lazy to actually find and look at the actual editorial, and that we’re so stupid we will swallow his line of baloney.

Adams writes, “Two days before the election in November 1860, an editorial in the Charleston Mercury summed up the reason why South Carolina should secede:  ‘The real causes of dissatisfaction in the South with the North, are in the unjust taxation and expenditure of the taxes by the Government of the United States, and in the revolution the North has effected in this government, from a confederated republic, to a national sectional despotism.’ ”  [p. 95]  Here we see another example of Adams’ incompetence.  The 1860 election was held on November 6, 1860.  The editorial in which this was written was published on December 3, 1860.  On November 3, 1860, the Charleston Mercury published an editorial that started out, “The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery.  No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and who is not prepared to surrender the institution, with the safety and independence of the South, can doubt that the time for action has come–now or never.”  The December 3, 1860 editorial, titled, “Delay,” has the phrase Adams uses buried inside it, talking about how delay to wait to see if Personal Liberty Laws are repealed should not take place.  The Mercury had already identified “the issue before the country” a month earlier.

Here is why South Carolina says they seceded:

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

“We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

F”or twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that ‘Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,’ and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

“This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

“On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

“The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.

“We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved.”

That, Adams, is why South Carolina seceded.  It had nothing to do with the Morrill Tariff.

Adams continues, “On 21 January 1861, five days before Louisiana withdrew from the Union, The New Orleans Daily Crescent published this remarkable editorial explaining the causes of secession:

” ‘They [the South] know that it is their import trade that draws from the people’s pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interests. … These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the Union.  They [the North] are enraged at the prospect of being despoiled of the rich feast upon which they have so long fed and fattened, and which they were just getting ready to enjoy with still greater gout and gusto.  They are as mad as hornets because the prize slips them just as they are ready to grasp it.’ ” [p. 95]

First of all, Adams confuses the South with the North at the beginning of his excerpt.  Secondly, this editorial is not written as a factual study but rather as a way of whipping up public support for secession.  It claims southerners paid the highest portion of the tariff, even though that was most certainly not the case.  The goal of this editorial, then, is to bolster secession morale by saying the rest of the US can’t live without them and they will succeed while the rest of the US will fail.  It’s pure propaganda.

Once again, Adams cherry picks his evidence very carefully and ignores the plain language that clearly contradicts him and shows him to be wrong.

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14 comments

  1. jfepperson · · Reply

    FYI: There is a Chesnut bio which came out a few years before Adams’ dreck was published. I gave it to my mother as a birthday present, and it came back in to my possession when we emptied the house after my step-father died. (Mom died in the 80s.) I suspect this is the book Adams is talking about, and I will try to check out his claims versus what is actually there. I think the author is a woman named Mullholland.

    1. Thanks, Jim. I saw on the internet there was a bio, but as Adams was talking about what Chesnut had written I looked at her journal, and it definitely doesn’t cover what he was talking about.

  2. Al, note that there are Chesnut family papers exant apart from the diary, in its several versions, including letters and household accounts.

    I took a look at the Muhlenfeld biography this evening, and carefully skimmed the chapters dealing with the end of the rebellion and Chesnut’s post-war life. I didn’t see any references to a “family obligation[] * * * to seventeen ex-slaves who had to be cared for in their old age.”

    I did find some interesting material, from Muhlenfeld and a couple of other sources, which I’ll post more about when I’ve organized my scans. (I’m lucky to live near a very large university library, where I have reading but not borrowing privileges.)

    In short, it appears that a number of the Chesnut family slaves continued to work for Mary Chesnut’s family after the war, at times possibly through a barter relationship rather than cash wages, although there are references at one point to her husband having “hired” the former slaves.

    Interestingly, one of Chesnut’s chief sources of income from the end of the war until her death were the rents paid by ex-slaves, described as totaling $100 per year.

    From what I’ve read, it wouldn’t surprise me if Chesnut supported some ex-slaves who (after a lifetime of bondage) were too old to do any work in exchange. Whether this supports the beneficence of slavery compared to the conditions of mid-19th century free workers is another question.

    This issue is, of course, of very little importance, except that Mr. Mackey has done the world a public service through his fact checking of this very bad book. It’s worthwhile for the critique to reflect the scrupulous accuracy completely missing from Adams’ book, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to pitch in on this small point.

    1. Thanks very much for the information. I checked her diary because he specifically mentioned it in the cited passage. I attempted to find some references through Google Books but had no luck.

      Thanks also for the kind words. I appreciate the assistance.

  3. Since I forgot to check the *Muhlenfeld* biography last night (minor family crises) I was going to do it this morning, but it is evident that “chancery” has rendered the effort moot. Thanks.

  4. Michael C. Lucas · · Reply

    AL, If you keep staring at the tree you will never see the forest….

    1. Michael, with Adams it’s a forest of lies, misstatements, fabrications, half-truths, and poor history. Anyone who believes a word he says has problems.

  5. Very nice Al, have you ever considered doing a “book with no credibility” on Walter E Williams? He is very similar to Charles Adams…an economist…but yet writes a book called Historical Ignorance….I believe its called.

    1. I don’t have his book, and it doesn’t sound like I’m going to waste any money on it. Maybe some day a local library will carry it.

      1. hahahahaha I will buy you one (yes thats a joke but I’m also serious too) if it gets you to do a post… Al, your in VA right? So am I :]

        1. I get back to the Old Dominion whenever I can.

          1. Aw I assumed with the Vtech logo that you were out here I see those all over people’s cars out here. Guess I will have to hope the library gets a copy then.

  6. Kristoffer · · Reply

    Do a “book with no credibility” on Lerone Bennett’s Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream. If the title doesn’t make you foam at the mouth, the book description will.

    1. I think it’s already been taken apart pretty well. One review said that the only way it could get Lincoln more wrong was to misspell his name.

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