Sue Public Officials, Personally, Who Break Laws When Removing Monuments to Southern War Dead

Sue Public Officials, Personally, Who Break Laws When Removing Monuments to Southern War Dead

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

A Georgia organization, the Georgia Minutemen, LLC, founded by Ray McBerry, has filed a lawsuit against all four Henry County, Georgia commissioners as individuals, meaning they are being sued personally. In Georgia, when public officials vote for unlawful acts as these allegedly did in July when they voted to remove the century old Confederate monument on McDonough Square in McDonough, Georgia, they are not protected from personal lawsuits against them.

Henry County Courthouse and Confederate monument, McDonough, Georgia, before monument removed 7-29-20.
Henry County Courthouse and Confederate monument, McDonough, Georgia, before monument removed 7-29-20.
Century old Confederate monument, McDonough Sq., McDonough, Georgia before removal.
Century old Confederate monument, McDonough Sq., McDonough, Georgia before removal.

The McDonough Square monument was removed July 29, 2020 and other laws were apparently broken by the county in their extreme haste to remove the monument.

The commissioners' votes allegedly violated Georgia's strong Monument Protection Act, Georgia Code 50-3-1.

Four Henry County commissioners are being sued personally for removing this monument.
Four Henry County commissioners are being sued personally for removing this monument.

If the Georgia Minutemen prevail, the four commissioners, three Democrats and a Republican, as well as the county manager who facilitated the monument removal, will have to pay out of their own pockets triple "the cost of replacing or restoring the original monument to its rightful place on McDonough Square, all attorneys fees, and exemplary damages in an amount decided by a jury" according to a September 10 press release. There could also be punitive damages.

This is a promising approach! Camps should get their legal people to look at what the Georgia Minutemen are doing to see if you can do the same or something similar. We should think outside the box as our ancestors had to do constantly since they were outnumbered four to one and outgunned 100 to one.

I have included, below, a press release and update from the Georgia Minutemen that go into detail on their excellent lawsuit and what can be done to help them. Their contact information is at the end of this blog post.

North Carolina has had as number of flagrant violations of their Heritage Protection Act (HPA), the Monuments Law of 2015 [N.C.G.S. 100.2-1 (b) and (b) (1)] and if there is any way to start suing those public officials as individuals, it should be done ASAP. If possible, a suit should be brought against the former president of UNC who allowed the destruction of Silent Sam and removal of the base of the statue from the campus.

I don't know what the law is in Alabama but the mayor of Mobile, a Republican named Sandy Stimpson, who removed the magnificent statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes on June 5, 2020, should be targeted for a personal lawsuit if one is possible. Sandy Stimpson is not good enough to polish the shoes of Raphael Semmes.

Heritage groups in every state in America should investigate this strategy. ALL public officials, PRESENT AND PAST, who have broken monument protection laws, should be targeted and brought to justice in a court of law, then voted out of office.

Georgia Minutemen Press Release,
September 10, 2020

(McDonough, GA - 10 September) On Tuesday 8 September 2020, suit was brought by the Georgia Minutemen, LLC, a Georgia corporation, against all four Henry County commissioners who voted in July to remove the Confederate Monument from the McDonough Square where it had stood vigilant for more than 100 years. This suit is different than other suits that have been brought against public officials this year for removing Confederate monuments around the state in that it names all four commissioners in their individual capacity who voted for the removal.

Other lawsuits filed around the state, including Henry County, to force the restoration of monuments moved by public officials have been unsuccessful as yet owing to the onerous doctrine of "sovereign immunity" which protects any subdivision of state government from lawsuits in most cases. The new lawsuit filed by the Georgia Minutemen does an "end around" with regard to the sovereign immunity issue by naming the commissioners in their individual capacity where immunity is limited to lawful acts. Georgia's Monument Protection Act, arguably the strongest in the nation, allows for both civil and criminal suits against public officials who violate its stringent protections of monuments in Georgia.

This suit is important in that it would be a precedent-setting case which could be used as a tool for preventing the unlawful removal of monuments in other places. If the Minutemen are successful in the prosecution of this suit, public officials everywhere will be reticent to consider removing any monument protected under Georgia Code 50-3-1. If the commissioners lose this case, they will be on the hook as individuals for "treble" (triple) the cost of replacing or restoring the original monument to its rightful place on the McDonough Square, all attorneys fees, and exemplary damages in an amount decided by a jury. Monies collected from the verdict will first be applied to restoring the Monument to its home of more than 100 years before any other distributions are made.

The attorney for the Georgia Minutemen is Todd Harding of Maddox & Harding. The Defendants in the case are the four commissioners who voted unlawfully for the removal of the Monument: Dee Clemmons (D), Vivien Thomas (D), Bruce Holmes (D), and June Wood (R-chairman); and the Henry County Manager, Cheri Hobson-Matthews, who effected the removal.

Speaking to local reporters, Georgia Minutemen founder Ray McBerry had this to say about the new filing: "It is sad when we have reached a point in America when even monuments to our heroes that have stood for more than a hundred years are under attack. It is time that Georgians, and all Americans, begin to stand up together and say, 'No more!' Our legislature last year wisely gave the people of the sovereign state of Georgia the tools necessary to prevent this very thing in the form of the strongest monument protection bill in the country... and we intend to use it. Let this be a warning shot to all public officials in this state who are considering removing our monuments... you will be next. We're coming for you in the courtroom."

Minutemen founder McBerry is personally facing a state obstruction charge for refusing to vacate the sidewalk in McDonough on the evening that the County brought a crane company to remove the Confederate Monument. He was told that the crane company could not begin work until the sidewalk was cleared, and he refused to move. Mr. McBerry pointed out to the more than 20 officers present at his arrest that the construction permit they were ostensibly using as their authority to clear the Square could not exist because it was nowhere posted publicly on the site as required by law. Officers arrested and detained him anyway, only to learn the following day through Open Records Requests that the County had, in fact, dropped the ball and failed to obtain the permit as required by law. Although Mr. McBerry's statements to the officers have proven true, the Henry County solicitor's office have thus far refused to dismiss the charge against him.

* * * END RELEASE * * *


Georgia Minutemen Press Release UPDATE,
September 29, 2020



The lawsuit filed by the Georgia Minutemen in the Henry County Superior Court is extremely important for all of Georgia. With monuments to our heroes coming down all across the state even in the face of the strongest monument protection law in America, it is essential that we score a victory for a number of reasons. Both well-meaning individuals and organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans have filed multiple lawsuits to stop the removal of our monuments or force their restoration. To date, ALL of these efforts have been unsuccessful, mainly owing to the onerous doctrine of sovereign immunity which prevents any political subdivision of the state of Georgia from being sued without its permission. Months ago, the Georgia Minutemen put out an article encouraging all Georgians to vote YES this November on the proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot which would end sovereign immunity in most cases; however, we cannot afford to wait for the outcome of that election. With every day that passes, more monuments are under scrutiny in local communities across the state; and the chances of having monuments put back that have already been removed become smaller and smaller. That's why our lawsuit over the McDonough monument is so crucial.


There are several reasons that this particular case is so important...

1. We are not suing the Board of Commissioners like the SCV and other well-meaning individuals have done around the state. We are suing the commissioners as INDIVIDUALS for breaking the law.

2. We MUST secure a legal win in order to stop other monuments from being removed. So far, none of the legal efforts to enforce our Monument Protection Act have proven successful. We need to take the strongest case to court.

3. There is tremendous popular support for restoring the Monument among the locals in this case.

4. We have and are continuing to receive intelligence and evidence in this case from individuals within the county government here who are sympathetic to our Cause.

5. In going about to break the Monument law, the county in this case has also broken additional laws owing to their attempt to do so quickly and secretively.

6. This particular Monument was already part of the National Historic Registry and is afforded additional protections.

7. The motive of the commissioners in this case was clearly stated... to remove anything Confederate from county property.

For these and some other reasons that I am not at liberty to share at this time related to things which may be presented in court, the case to restore the Confederate Monument in McDonough is the strongest evidentiary case which currently exists on the legal landscape here in Georgia.


1. The 4 commissioners who voted to remove the Monument illegally (plus the county manager who effected the removal) will be forced to pay PERSONALLY to restore the Monument even though public funds were used for its removal.

2. The law requires that the defendants will be required to pay TRIPLE the cost to restore the Monument.

3. The defendants will be required to repay all of our legal fees and court costs.

4. The jury may award punitive damages if it chooses.


We are already having success in two instances of halting plans by other localities to remove monuments just because they have learned that we are suing the officials in their PERSONAL status... because NO politician wants to be held PERSONALLY liable with THEIR OWN MONEY for their reckless and illegal actions. They have no qualms about doing it if it is only YOUR TAX DOLLARS at risk and when they can use the county attorney that they do not have to personally hire for their defense. It's a different story when they are risking their own fortunes to break the law. . . .

Contact Information:

Our Confederate Ancestors: Admiral Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat, Chapters 5 and 6

A Series on the Daring Exploits of Our Confederate Ancestors in the War Between the States.

Chapters 5 and 6 of the first 6 of

Memoirs of Service Afloat
During the War Between the States
by Admiral Raphael Semmes

5. Another Brief Historical Retrospect.

6. The Question of Slavery, as It Affected Secession.

Admiral Raphael Semmes of the CSS Alabama, the picture that later became a U.S. postage stamp.
Admiral Raphael Semmes of the CSS Alabama, the picture that later became a U.S. postage stamp.
Publisher's Note from Gene Kizer, Jr.: The six chapters of Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, by Admiral Raphael Semmes, published in this and the two previous blog posts, are the most outstanding, accurate and complete argument on the causes of the War Between the States that I have ever read in a short analysis.

Semmes covers everything and leaves nothing out. He is right about both North and South believing in States Rights until about 1830, which is only 31 years before the war.

What changed was the massive immigration into the North that made them aware of their sectional strength. By 1860, Northerners realized if they could just rally their votes, they could take over the government and have higher tariffs than ever, such as the astronomical Morrill Tariff, as well as more bounties, subsidies, monopolies and any other way they could conceive of to increase their wealth and power.

Even more than the economic issues, the hatred of Southerners used by the Republican Party to rally its votes is what caused the first seven Southern states to secede. Southerners believed in the Declaration of Independence and its statement that the just powers of the government come from the consent of the governed.

There was no consent of the governed in the South in 1860 to be ruled over by crazed, rabid people so full of hate. Sounds like the Democrat Party of today, and there are many parallels that will be written about in coming weeks.

Southerners knew they had the right to secede because New York, Rhode Island and Virginia had all reserved the right of secession, specifically, in writing, before acceding to the Constitution. The acceptance of all the other states of that reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, gave it to them as well because all the states entered the Union as equals.

Even after all that Northern hate, 61% of the country still voted against Abraham Lincoln, but that was enough for him to win the electoral college.

Southerners called conventions, which was the precedent set by the Founding Fathers with the Constitution, and they voted to secede from the Union.

They expected peace but got war when Lincoln's economy without Southern cotton and all those tariffs, bounties, subsidies and monopolies was threatened with annihilation. Lincoln knew he had four times the white population of the South and 100 times the manufacturing so he started his war and 750,000 died and over a million were wounded, but it wasn't over until the South was destroyed and had nothing else to give.

There is no stain on Southern honor. They were fighting for the republic of sovereign states that the Founding Fathers had envisioned. It was States' Rights verses a massive, centralized Federal Government (the Yankees were the Federals in the war) that was fighting for Northern control of the country, and certainly not because of a moral desire to end slavery by the same people who had brought all the slaves here and made huge fortunes in the process.

Semmes's argument is EXACTLY the same argument I make in my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. It is always good to see one's historical analysis mirrored and validated by such a towering and brilliant person as Admiral Raphael Semmes.

Our Confederate ancestors are the true heroes of American history. They fought America's bloodiest war for independence and the vision of the Founding Fathers, and in the process, they wrote the book on American valor and patriotism.

For more information on Admiral Raphael Semmes, please visit the website of the Admiral Raphael Semmes Camp #11, SCV, in Mobile Alabama: Several of the pictures from my three Semmes posts come from their outstanding website.

Admiral Raphael Semmes, 1995 U.S. postage stamp commemorating him.
Chapter V.
Another Brief Historical Retrospect.

In the previous chapters, I have given a brief outline of the history and formation of the Federal Constitution, proving, by abundant reference to the Fathers, and to the instrument itself, that it was the intention of the former to draft, and that they did draft, a federal compact of government, which compact was "ordained, and established," by the States, in their sovereign capacity, and not by the people of the United States, in the aggregate, as one nation.

It resulted from this statement of the question, that the States had the legal, and constitutional right to withdraw from the compact, at pleasure, without reference to any cause of quarrel.

Accordingly, nothing has yet been said about the causes which impelled the Southern States to a separation, except indeed incidentally, when the tariff system was alluded to, as the motive which had induced Massachusetts and the other Northern States, to change their State-Rights doctrine.

CSS Alabama, the greatest commerce raider in maritime history.
CSS Alabama, the greatest commerce raider in maritime history.

It was stated in the opening chapter, that the judgment which posterity will form, upon the great conflict between the sections, will depend, mainly, upon the answers which we may be able to give to two questions: First, Had the South the right to dissolve the compact of government, under which it had lived with the North? and secondly, Was there sufficient ground for this dissolution?

Having answered the first question---imperfectly, I fear, but yet as fully, as was consistent, with the design of these pages---I propose now to consider, very briefly, the second. I would gladly have left all this preliminary work to other, and abler pens, but I do not consider that the memoirs of any actor in the late war, who, like myself, was an officer in the old service, and who withdrew from that service, because of the breaking out of the war---or rather because of the secession of his State---would be complete without, at least, a brief reference to the reasons, which controlled his judgment.

The American Constitution died of a disease, that was inherent in it.

Capt. Raphael Semmes on the Alabama in Cape Town, S. Africa, 12 Aug. 1863.
Capt. Raphael Semmes on the Alabama in Cape Town, S. Africa, 12 Aug. 1863.

It was framed on false principles, inasmuch as the attempt was made, through its means, of blinding together, in a republican form of government, two dissimilar peoples, with widely dissimilar interests.

Monarchial governments may accomplish this, since they are founded on force, but republican governments never. Austria, and Russia, pin together, in our day, with their bayonets, many dissimilar peoples, but if a republic should make the attempt, that moment it must, of necessity, cease to be a republic, since the very foundation of such a government is the consent of the governed.

On the CSS Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.
On the CSS Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.

The secession of the Southern States was a mere corollary of the American proposition of government; and the Northern States stultified themselves, the moment they attempted to resist it. The consent of the Southern States being wanted, there should have been an end of the question.

If the Northern States were not satisfied to let them go, but entertained, on the contrary, a desire to restrain them by force, this was a proof, that those States had become tired of the republican form, and desired to change it.

But they should have been honest about it; they should have avowed their intentions from the beginning, and not have waged the war, as so many republics, endeavoring to coerce other republics, into a forced union with them.

To have been logical, they should have obliterated the State boundaries, and have declared all the States---as well the Northern States, as the Southern---so many counties of a consolidated government. But even then, they could not have made war upon any considerable number of those counties, without violating the fundamental American idea of a government---the consent of the governed.

The right of self-government was vindicated in the Declaration of Independence, in favor of three millions of the subjects of Great Britain. In the States of the Southern Confederacy, there were eight millions.

The American Republic, as has been said, was a failure, because of the antagonism of the two peoples, attempted to be bound together, in the same government. If there is to be but a single government in these States, in the future, it cannot be a republic. De Tocqueville saw this, thirty years ago. In his "Democracy in America" he described these States, as "more like hostile nations, than rival parties, under one government."

Raphael Semmes with the First National Confederate Flag, the Stars and Bars.
Raphael Semmes with the First National Confederate Flag, the Stars and Bars.

This distinguished Frenchman saw, as with the eye of intuition, the canker which lay at the heart of the federal compact. He saw looming up, in the dim distance, the ominous, and hideous form of that unbridled, and antagonistic Majority, which has since rent the country in twain---a majority based on the views, and interests of one section, arrayed against the views, and interests of the other section.

"The majority," said he, "in that country, exercises a prodigious, actual authority, and a moral influence which is scarcely less preponderant; no obstacles exist, which can impede, or so much as retard its progress, or which can induce it to heed the complaints of those whom it crushes upon its path. * * * This state of things is fatal, in itself, and dangerous for the future. * * * If the free institutions of America are ever destroyed, that event may be attributed to the unlimited authority of the majority. * * * Anarchy will then be the result, but it will have been brought about by despotism."

Precisely so; liberty is always destroyed by the multitude, in the name of liberty.

Majorities within the limits of constitutional restraints are harmless, but the moment they lose sight of these restraints, the many-headed monster becomes more tyrannical, than the tyrant with a single head; numbers harden its conscience, and embolden it, in the perpetration of crime.

And when this majority, in a free government, becomes a faction, or, in other words, represents certain classes and interests to the detriment of other classes, and interests, farewell to public liberty; the people must either become enslaved, or there must be a disruption of the government.

This result would follow, even if the people lived under a consolidated government, and were homogenous: much more, then, must it follow, when the government is federal in form, and the States are, in the words of De Tocqueville, "more like hostile nations, than rival parties, under one government." These States are, and indeed always have been rival nations.

The dissimilarity between the people of the Northern, and the people of the Southern States has always been remarked upon, by observant foreigners, and it has not escaped the attention of our own historians.

Indeed it could not be otherwise, for the origin of the two sections has been diverse. Virginia and Massachusetts were the two original germs, from which the great majority of the American populations has sprung; and no two peoples, speaking the same language, and coming from the same country, could have been more dissimilar, in education, taste, and habits, and even in natural instincts, than were the adventurers who settled these two colonies.

Those who sought a new field of adventure for themselves, and affluence for their posterity, in the more congenial climate of the Chesapeake, were the gay, and dashing cavaliers, who, as a class, afterward adhered to the fortunes of the Charleses, whilst the first settlers of Massachusetts were composed of the same materials, that formed the "Praise-God-Barebones" parliament of Cromwell.

Admiral Raphael Semmes Camp 11, SCV, plaque.
Admiral Raphael Semmes Camp 11, SCV, plaque.

These two peoples, seem to have had an instinctive repugnance, the one to the other. To use a botanical phrase, the Puritan was a seedling of the English race, which had been unknown to it before.

It had few, or none of the characteristics of the original stock. Gloomy, saturnine, and fanatical, in disposition, it seemed to repel all the more kindly, and generous impulses of our nature, and to take a pleasure in pulling down everything, that other men had built up; not so much as its subsequent history would seem to show, because the work was faulty, as because it had been done by other hands than their own.

They hated tyranny, for instance, but it was only because they were not, themselves, the tyrants; they hated religious intolerance, but it was only when not practiced by themselves.

Natural affinities attracted like unto like. The Cavalier sought refuge with  the Cavalier, and the Puritan with the Puritan, for a century, and more.

When the fortunes of the Charleses waned, the Cavaliers fled to Virginia; when the fortunes of Cromwell waned, the Puritans fled to Massachusetts.

Trade occasionally drew the two peoples together, but they were repelled at all other points. Thus these germs grew, step by step, into two distinct nations. A different civilization was naturally developed in each.

The two countries were different in climate, and physical features---the climate of the one being cold and inhospitable, and its soil rugged, and sterile, whilst the climate of the other was soft, and genial, and its soil generous, and fruitful.

As a result of these differences of climate, and soil, the pursuits of the two peoples became different, the one being driven to the ocean, and to the mechanic arts, for subsistence, and the other betaking itself to agriculture.

Another important element soon presented itself, to widen the social, and economical breach, which had taken place between the two peoples--African slavery.

All the Colonies, at first, became slaveholding, but it was soon found, that slave labor was unprofitable in the North, where the soil was so niggard in its productions, and where, besides, the white man could labor.

One, by one, the Northern States got rid of their slaves, as soon as they made this discovery.

[NOTE: The Northern states did not free their slaves. They sold them back into slavery in the South, often just before the slave was to be free, such as before his 21st birthday. There is irrefutable proof of this. It was also written about by Alexis de Tocqueville who said Northerners did not free their slaves but simply changed the slave's master from a Northern to a Southern one. See also Edgar J. McManus, Black Bondage in the North (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1973).]

In the South, the case was different. The superior fertility of the soil, and the greater geniality of the climate enabled the planter to employ the African to advantage; and thus slave labor was engrafted on our system of civilization, as one of its permanent features.

The effect was, as before remarked, a still greater divergence between the two peoples.

The wealth of the South soon began to outstrip that of the North. Education and refinement followed wealth.

Whilst the civilization of the North was coarse, and practical, that of the South was more intellectual, and refined. This is said in no spirit of disparagement of our Northern brethren; it was the natural, and inevitable result of the different situations of the two peoples.

In the North, almost every young man was under the necessity, during our colonial existence, of laboring with his own hands, for the means of subsistence. There was neither the requisite leisure, nor the requisite wealth to bring about a very refined system of civilization. The life of a Southern planter on the other hand with his large estates, and hundreds of vassals, with his profuse hospitality, and luxurious style of living, resembled more that of the feudatories of  the middle ages, than that of any modern gentleman out of the Southern States.

It is not my object to express a preference for either of these modes of civilization---each, no doubt, had its advantages, and disadvantages---but to glance at them, merely, for the purpose of showing the dissimilarity of the two peoples; their uncongeniality, and want of adaptation, socially, the one to the other with social institutions as wide asunder as the poles, and with their every material interest antagonistic, the separation of the two peoples, sooner or later, was a logical sequence.

As had been anticipated by Patrick Henry, and others, the moment the new government went into operation, parties began to be formed, on sectional interests and sectional prejudices.

The North wanted protection for her shipping, in the way of discriminating tonnage dues, and the South was opposed to such protection.

The North wanted a bank, to facilitate their commercial operations; the South was opposed to it.

The North wanted protection for their manufactures, the South was opposed to it.

Raphael Semmes.
Raphael Semmes.

There was no warrant, of course, for any of these schemes of protection in the Federal Constitution; they were, on the contrary, subversive of the original design of that instrument.

The South  has been called aggressive. She was thrown on the defensive, in the first Congress, and has remained so, from that day to this. She never had the means to be aggressive, having been always in a minority, in both branches of the Legislature.

It is not consistent with the scope of these memoirs, to enter, at large, into the political disputes which culminated in secession. They are many, and various, and would fill volumes. It will be sufficient to sketch the history of one or two of the more important of them.

The "American System," of which Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, became the champion, and to which allusion has already been made, became the chief instrument of oppression of the Southern States, through a long series of years.

I prefer to let a late distinguished Senator, from the State of Missouri, Mr. Benton, tell this tale of spoliation.

On the slavery question, Mr. Benton was with the North, he cannot, therefore, be accused of being a witness unduly favorable to the South. In a speech in the Senate, in 1828, he declared himself, as follows:

I feel for the sad changes, which have taken place in the South, during the last fifty years. Before the Revolution, it was the seat of wealth, as well as hospitality. Money, and all it commanded, abounded there. But how is it now? All this is reversed. Wealth has fled from the South, and settled in regions north of the Potomac; and this in the face of the fact, that the South, in four staples alone, has exported produce, since the Revolution, to the value of eight hundred millions of dollars; and the North has exported comparatively nothing. Such an export would indicate unparalleled wealth, but what is the fact? In the place of wealth, a universal pressure for money was felt---not enough for current expenses---the price of all property down---the country drooping, and languishing---towns and cities decaying---and the frugal habits of the people pushed to the verge of universal self-denial, for the preservation of their family estates. Such a result is a strange, and wonderful phenomenon. It calls upon statesmen to inquire into the cause. Under Federal legislation, the exports of the South have been the basis of the Federal revenue. * * * Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, may be said to defray three-fourth, of the annual expense of supporting the Federal Government; and of this great sum, annually furnished by them, nothing, or next to nothing is returned to them, in the shape of Government expenditures. That expenditure flows in an opposite direction---it flows northwardly, in one uniform, uninterrupted, and perennial stream. This is the reason why wealth disappears from the South and rises up in the North. Federal legislation does all this. It does it by the simple process of eternally taking from the South, and returning nothing to it. If it returned to the South the whole, or even a good part, of what it exacted, the four States south of the Potomac might stand the action of the system, but the South must be exhausted of its money, and its property, by a course of legislation, which is forever taking away, and never returning anything. Every new tariff increases the force of this action. No tariff has ever yet included Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, except to increase the burdens imposed upon them."

This picture is not overdrawn; it is the literal truth. Before the war the Northern States, and especially the New England States, exported next to nothing, and yet they "blossomed as the rose."

The picturesque hills of New England were dotted with costly mansions, erected with money, of which the Southern planters had been despoiled, by means of the tariffs of which Mr. Benton spoke. Her harbors frowned with fortifications, constructed by the same means,. Every cove and inlet had its lighthouse, for the benefit of New England shipping, three fourths of the expense of erecting which had been paid by the South, and even the cod, and mackerel fisheries of New England were bountied, on the bald pretext, that they were nurseries for manning the navy.

The South resisted this wholesale robbery, to the best of her ability. Some few of the more generous of the Northern representatives in Congress came to her aid, but still she was overborne; and the curious reader, who will take the pains to consult the "Statutes at Large," of the American Congress, will find on an average, a tariff for every five years recorded on their pages; the cormorants increasing in rapacity, the more they devoured.

No wonder that Mr. Lincoln when asked, "why not let the South go?" replied,

Let the South go! where then shall we get our revenue?

This system of spoliation was commenced in 1816.

The doctrine of protection was not, at first, boldly avowed. A heavy debt had been contracted during the war of 1812, with Great Britain, just then terminated. It became necessary to raise revenue to pay this debt, as well as to defray the current expenses of the government, and for these laudable purposes, the tariff of 1816 was enacted.

Raphael Semmes standing by the Stars and Bars.
Raphael Semmes standing by the Stars and Bars.
The North had not yet become the overshadowing power, which it has become in our day. It was comparatively modest, and only asked, that, in adjusting the duties under the tariff, such incidental protection, as might not be inconsistent with the main object of the bill, to wit, the raising of revenue, should be given to Northern manufactures.

It was claimed that these manufactures had sprung up, sua sponte, during the war, and had materially aided the country in prosecuting the war, and that they would languish, and die, unless protected, in this incidental manner. This seemed but just and reasonable, and some of the ablest of our Southern men gave their assent to the proposition; among others, Mr. Calhoun of South Carolina, and Mr. Clay of Kentucky.

The latter, in particular, then a young member of the House of Representatives, espoused the Northern side of the controversy, and subsequently became known, as we have seen, as the father of the system. Much undeserved obloquy has been thrown upon Mr. Clay, for this supposed abandonment of his section. The most that he claimed, was that a temporary protection, of a few years' duration only, should be given to these infant manufactures, until they should become self-sustaining.

In later life, when he saw the extent to which the measure was pushed, he did, indeed recoil from it, as Mr. Calhoun, with keener intellect, had done, years before. The wedge, being thus entered, was driven home by the insatiable North.

In less than twenty years, or during the early part of General Jackson's administration, the public debt was paid off, and it became necessary to reduce the tariffs, to prevent a plethora in the public treasury; but the North, by this time, had "waxed fat," and like the ox in the scriptures, began to kick.

From incidental protection, it advanced, boldly, to the doctrine of "protection, for the sake of protection"---thus avowing the unjust doctrine, that it was right to rob one section, for the benefit of the other; the pretense being the general good---the "general welfare" clause of the Constitution as well as the expression "We, the people," in the Preamble, being invoked to cover the enormity.

Under the wholesale system of spoliation, which was now practiced, the South was becoming poorer, and poorer.

Whilst her abundant cotton crops supplied all the exchanges of the country, and put in motion, throughout the North, every species of manufacturing industry, from the cut-nail, which the planter put in the weather-boarding of his house, to the coach in which his wife, and daughters took an airing, it was found, that, from year to year, mortgages were increasing on her plantations, and that the planter was fast becoming little better, than the overseer of the Northern manufacturer, and the Northern merchant.

A statesman of England once declared, that "not so much as a hob-nail should be manufactured, in America." The colonial dependence, and vassalage meant to be proclaimed by this expression, was now strictly true, as between the North, and the South. The South was compelled to purchase her hob-nails, in the North, being excluded by the Northern tariffs, from all other markets.

South Carolina, taking the alarm at this state of things, resorted as we have seen to nullification, in 1832. The quarrel was compromised in 1833, by the passage of a more moderate tariff, but the North still growing, in strength, and wealth, disregarded the compromise, in 1842, and enacted a more oppressive tariff than ever.

From this time onward, no attempt was made to conciliate the South, by the practice of forbearance, and justice, and the latter sank, hopelessly, into the condition of a tributary province to her more powerful rival.

All this was done under a federal compact, formed by sovereign States, for their common benefit! Thus was the prophecy of Patrick Henry verified, when he said:

But I am sure, that the dangers of this system [the Federal Constitution] are real, when those who have no similar interest with the people of this country [the South] are to legislate for us---when our dearest rights are to be left, in the hands of those, whose advantage it will be to infringe them.

And thus also, was verified the declaration of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina: "If they [the Southern States] are to form so considerable a minority, and the regulation of trade is to be given to the general Government, they will be nothing more than overseers of the Northern States."

Chapter VI.
The Question of Slavery, as It Affected Secession.

Great pains have been taken, by the North, to make it appear to the world, that the war was a sort of moral, and religious crusade against slavery.

Such was not the fact. The people of the North were, indeed, opposed to slavery, but merely because they thought it stood in the way of their struggle for empire. I think it safe to affirm, that if the question had stood upon moral, and religious grounds alone, the institution would never have been interfered with.

The Republican Party, which finally brought on the war, took its rise, as is well known, on the question of extending slavery to the Territories---those inchoate States, which were finally to decide the vexed question of the balance of power, between the two sections.

It did not propose to disturb the institution in the States; in fact, the institution could do no harm there, for the States, in which it existed, were already in a hopeless minority.

The fat, Southern goose could not resist being plucked, as things stood, but it was feared that if slavery was permitted to go into the Territories, the goose might become strong enough to resist being plucked.

If proof were wanted of this, we have it, in the resolution passed by the Federal Congress, after the first battle of Manassas, in the first year of the war, as follows:

Resolved, That the war is not waged on our part, in any spirit of oppression, or for any purpose of conquest, or for interfering with the rights, or established institutions of these States, but to defend, and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity and rights of the several States unimpaired.

[NOTE: This comes from the War Aims Resolution, also known by the names of its sponsors, Representative John. J. Crittenden of Kentucky and Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee: the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution, or just the Crittenden Resolution. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives July 22, 1861, and the Senate July 25, 1861. There were only two dissenting votes in the House and five in the Senate. This was just over three months into the war. There is much other substantial proof such as the Corwin Amendment that Lincoln supported and passed the Northern Congress and was ratified by three states until the war made it moot, that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the North did not go to war to end slavery. They went to war because they faced economic annihilation without the South, with its 100% control of King Cotton, and its massive captive manufacturing market.]

In 1820, in the admission of Missouri into the Union, the North and the South had entered into a compromise, which provided, that slavery should not be carried into any of the Territories, north of a given geographical line.

This compromise was clearly violative of the rights of the South, for the Territories were common property, which had been acquired, by the blood, and treasure, of the North and the South alike, and no discrimination could justly be made between the sections, as to emigration to those Territories; but discrimination would be made, if the Northern man could emigrate to all of them, and the Southern man to those of them only that lay South of the given line.

By the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, introduced into the House of Representatives, in 1854, by Mr. Stephen A. Douglas, this unjust compromise was repealed; the repealing clause declaring, that the Missouri Compromise

being inconsistent with the principles of non-intervention, by Congress, with slavery in the States, and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative, and void; it being the true intent, and meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any Territory, or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form, and regulate their domestic institutions, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.

Nothing would seem more just, than the passage of this act, which removed the restriction which had been put upon a portion of the States, threw open the Territories to immigration form all the States, alike, and left the question of local government, the question of slavery included, to be decided by the inhabitants of the Territories themselves.

Marker for Semmes's house in Mobile, Alabama.
Marker for Semmes's house in Mobile, Alabama.

But this act of justice, which Mr. Douglas had had the address and ability to cause to be passed, was highly distasteful to the Northern people.

It was not consistent with their views of empire that there should be any more Southern Slave States admitted into the Union.

The Republican party, which, up to that time, had made but little headway, now suddenly sprang into importance and at the next elections in the North, swept every thing before it. The Northern Democratic members of Congress who had voted for the hated measure, were beaten by overwhelming majorities, and Republicans sent in their places; and the Republican Convention which assembled at Chicago in 1860, to nominate a candidate for the Presidency, adopted as one of the "planks of its platform"---to use a slang political phrase of the day---the principle that slavery should thereafter be excluded from the Territories; not only from the Territories North of the geographical line, of the Missouri Compromise, but from all the Territories! The gauntlet of defiance was thus boldly thrown at the feet of the Southern States,

From 1816 to 1860, these States had been plundered by tariffs, which had enriched the North, and now they were told without any circumlocution, that they should no longer have any share in the Territories.

I have said that this controversy, on the subject of slavery, did not rest, in the North, on any question of morals or religion.

The end aimed at, in restricting slavery to the States, was purely political; but this end was to be accomplished by means, and the Northern leaders had the sagacity to see, that it was all-important to mix up the controversy, as a means, with moral, and religious questions.

Hence they enlisted the clergy in their crusade against the South; the pulpit becoming a rostrum, from which to inflame the Northern mind against the un-Godly slave-holder; religious papers were established, which fulminated their weekly diatribes against the institution; magazine literature, fiction, lectures, by paid itinerants, were all employed, with powerful effect, in a community where every man sets himself up as a teacher, and considers himself responsible for the morals of his neighbor.

The contumely and insult thus heaped upon the South were, of themselves, almost past endurance, to say nothing of the wrongs, under which she suffered. The sectional animosity which was engendered by these means, in the North, soon became intense, and hurried on the catastrophe with railroad speed.

Whilst the dispute about slavery in the Territories was drawing to a focus, another, and if possible, a still more exciting question, had been occupying the public mind---the rendition of fugitive slaves to their owners.

Our ancestors, in the Convention of 1787, foreseeing the difficulty that was likely to arise on this subject, insisted that the following positive provision, for their protection, should be inserted in the Constitution: "No person held to service, or labor, in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law, or regulation therein, be discharged from such service, or labor; but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service, or labor may be due."

In 1793, a law, called the fugitive slave law, had been passed, for the purpose of carrying out this provision of the Constitution. This law was re-enacted, with some alterations, the better to secure the object in question, in 1850.

Neither of those laws was ever properly executed in the North. It soon became unsafe, indeed, for a Southern man to venture into the North, in pursuit of his fugitive slave.

Mr. Webster sought, in vain, in the latter part of his life, when he seemed to be actuated by a sense of returning justice to the South, to induce his countrymen to execute those laws, and he lost much of his popularity, in consequence.

The laws were not only positively disobeyed, but they were formally nullified by the Legislatures of fourteen of the Northern States; and penalties were annexed to any attempt to execute them. Mr. Webster, in speaking on this subject, says:

These States passed acts defeating the law of Congress, as far as it was in their power to defeat them. Those of them to whom I refer, not all, but several, nullified the law of 1793. They said in effect, 'We will not execute it. No runaway slave shall be restored.' Thus the law became a dead letter.

But here was the Constitution, and compact still binding; here was the stipulation, as solemn as words could form it, and which every member of Congress, every officer of the General Government, every officer of the State government, from governors down to constables, is sworn to support. It has been said in the States of New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, over and over again, that the law shall not be executed. That was the language in conventions, in Worcester, Massachusetts; in Syracuse, New York, and elsewhere. And for this they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. Now, gentlemen, these proceedings, I say it upon my professional reputation, are distinctly treasonable. And the act of taking Shadrick [a fugitive slave] from the public authorities, in Boston, and sending  him off, was an act of clear treason.

Great outcry was raised against South Carolina when she nullified the tariff law of 1830, passed in clear violation of the spirit of the Constitution; here we see fourteen States nullifying an act, passed to carry out an express provision of the same instrument, about which there was not, and could not be any dispute.

Let us again put Mr. Webster on the witness stand, and hear what he says, was the effect of this wholesale nullification by the Northern States of this provision of the Constitution. "I do not hesitate," says he,

to say, and repeat, that if the effect that part of the Constitution, which respects the restoration of fugitive slaves, the South would be no longer bound to keep the compact. A bargain broken on one side is broken on all sides.

That was spoken like Daniel Webster, the able jurist, and just man, and not like the Daniel Webster, whom I have before quoted, in these pages, as the casuist, and the sophist. The reader cannot fail to see what a full recantation we have here, of Mr. Webster's heresy, of 1833, when he contended that the Constitution had been "ordained and established," by the people of the United States, in the aggregate, as one nation.

Mr. Webster now calls the States, the parties to the instrument, and claims that the infraction of it, by some of the States, releases the others from their obligations under it.

It is then, after all, it seems, a federal compact; and if it be such, we have the authority of Mr. Webster, himself, for saying that the States may withdraw from it, at pleasure, without waiting for an infringement of it, by their co-States.

But the Southern States did not desire to withdraw from it, without reason. They were sincerely attached to the Union and were willing to suffer, and endure much rather than that it should be destroyed.

They had stood, shoulder to shoulder, with the North in two wars against the mother country, and had freely spent their wealth, and shed their blood in defense of the common rights. They had rushed to the defense of New England, in the war of the Revolution, and had equally responded to her call in 1812, in defense of her shipping interests.

Mr. Madison relied much upon these ties, as a common bond of union. When Patrick Henry and other Southern patriots were warning their people against the new alliance, proposed to them in the Federal Constitution, he spoke the following fervid language in reply to them, in one of the numbers of the "Federalist."

Hearken not to the unnatural voice, which tells you, that the people of America, knit together, as they are, by so many natural cords of affection, can no longer live together as members of the same family; can no longer continue mutual guardians of their mutual happiness. * * * No, my countrymen, shut your ears against this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the poison which it conveys. The kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their union, and excite horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies.

Much of this feeling still lingered in the bosoms of Southern men. They were slow to awaken from this dream of delusion. A rude and rough hand had been necessary to disenchant them.

But they were compelled, in spite of themselves, to realize the fact at last, that they had been deceived, and betrayed into the federal compact, that they might be made slaves.

Like an unhappy bride, upon whose brow the orange-wreath had been placed, by hands that promised tenderness, and protection, the South had been rudely scorned, and repelled, and forced in tears, and bitter lamentation, to retract the faith which she had plighted.

To carry still further our simile; like the deceived, and betrayed bride, the least show of relenting, and tenderness was sufficient to induce the South to forgive, and to endeavor to forget.

This magnificent 120 yr old statue was removed by Repub. mayor Sandy Stimpson June 5, 2020. See NOTE below.
This magnificent 120 yr old statue was removed by Repub. mayor Sandy Stimpson June 5, 2020. See NOTE below.

The history of our unhappy connection with the North is full of compromises, and apparent reconciliations---prominent among which was the compromise of 1833, growing out of the nullification of South Carolina, on the tariff question; and the compromise of 1850, in which it was promised, that Congress should not interfere with the question of slavery, either in the States, or Territories.

The South, like the too credulous bride, accepted these evidences of returning tenderness, in good faith; the North, like the coarse and brutal husband, whose selfishness was superior to his sense of justice, withdrew them, almost as soon as made. The obnoxious laws which had been modified, or repealed, under these compromises, were reenacted with additional provocations, and restrictions.

So loath was the South to abandon the Union, that she made strenuous efforts to remain in it, even after Mr. Lincoln had been elected President, in 1860.

In this election, that dreaded sectional line against which President Washington had warned his countrymen, in his Farewell Address, had at last been drawn; in it,---"the fire-bell of the night,"---which had so disturbed the last days of Jefferson, had been sounded.

There had, at last, arisen a united North, against a united South. Mr. Lincoln had been placed by the Chicago Convention on a platform so purely sectional, that no Southern State voted, or could vote for him. His election was purely geographical; it was tantamount to a denial of the co-equality of the Southern States, with the Northern States, in the Union, since it drove the former out of the common Territories.

This had not been a mere party squabble---the questions involved had been federal, and fundamental. Notwithstanding which, some of the Southern States were not without hope, that the North might be induced to revoke its verdict.

Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky, introduced into the Senate, a series of resolutions, which he hoped would have the effect of restoring harmony; the chief feature of which was, the restoration of the Missouri Compromise, giving the Southern States access to the Territories south of a geographical line.

Although this compromise was a partial abandonment of the rights of the South, many of the ablest, and most influential statesmen of that section, gave in their adhesion to it; among others, Mr. Jefferson Davis. The measure failed.

Various other resolutions, looking to pacification, were introduced into both houses of Congress; but they failed, in like manner.

The border Slave States aroused to a sense of their danger---for by this time, several of the Gulf States had seceded---called a Convention in the city of Washington, to endeavor to allay the storm. A full representation attended, composed of men, venerable for their years, and renowned for their patriotic services, but their labors ended also in failure; Congress scarcely deigned to notice them.

In both houses of Congress the Northern faction, which had so recently triumphed in the election of their President, was arrayed in a solid phalanx of hostility to the South, and could not be moved an inch. The Puritan leaven had at last "leavened the whole loaf," and the descendants of those immigrants who had come over to America, in the May Flower, feeling that they had the power to crush a race of men, who had dared to differ with them in opinion, and to have interests separate and apart from them, were resolved to use that power in a way to do no discredit to their ancestry. Rebels, when in a minority, they had become tyrants, now that they were in a majority.

Nothing remained to the South, but to raise the gantlet which had been thrown at her feet. The Federal Government which had been established by our ancestors had failed of its object. Instead of binding the States together, in peace, and amity, it had, in the hands of one portion of the States, become an engine of oppression of the other portion.

It so happened, that the slavery question was the issue which finally tore them asunder, but, as the reader has seen, this question was a mere means, to an end.

The end was empire, and we were about to repeat, in this hemisphere, the drama which had so often been enacted in the other, of a more powerful nation crushing out a weaker.

The war of the American sections was but the prototype of many other wars, which had occurred among the human race. It had its origin in the unregenerated nature of man, who is only an intellectual wild beast, whose rapacity has never yet been restrained, by a sense of justice.

The American people thought, when they framed the Constitution, that they were to be an exception to mankind, in general. History had instructed them that all other peoples, who had gone before them, had torn up paper governments, when paper was the only bulwark that protected such governments, but then they were the American people, and no such fate would await them.

The events which I have recorded, and am about to record, have taught them, that they are no better---and perhaps they are no worse---than other people.

CSS Alabama plaque in Simon's Town, South Africa today.
CSS Alabama plaque in Simon's Town, South Africa today.

It is to be hoped that they will profit by their dear-bought experience, and that when they shall have come to their senses, and undertake to lay the foundation of a new government, they will, if they design to essay another republic, eliminate all discordant materials.

The experiment of trusting to human honesty having failed, they must next trust to human interests---the great regulator, as all philosophy teaches, of human nature.

They must listen rather to the philosophy of Patrick Henry, than to that of James Madison, and never attempt again to bind up on one sheaf, with a withe of straw, materials so discordant as were in the people of the North, and the people of the South.

Grave site of Admiral Raphael Semmes and his wife, Anne E. Spencer Semmes, in Mobile, AL.
Grave site of Admiral Raphael Semmes and his wife, Anne E. Spencer Semmes, in Mobile, AL.

NOTE: The magnificent statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes that was put up around June 1900 was removed June 5, 2020 by a horribly misguided Republican mayor named Sandy Stimpson. Sandy Stimpson is not good enough to polish Raphael Semmes's shoes. Stimpson said "Moving this statue will not change the past. It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city." THAT FUTURE SHOULD NOT INCLUDE ANYBODY LIKE SANDY STIMPSON. He is more aligned with the Democrat Party that hates America. SCV camps in the area should look into what some are doing in Georgia and SUE PERSONALLY public officials like Stimpson who break the law. Republicans are safe defending Southern history. President Trump does. See:

"Republicans, There Is No Downside to Defending Southern History" at

Our Confederate Ancestors: Admiral Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat, Chapters 3 and 4

A Series on the Daring Exploits of Our Confederate Ancestors in the War Between the States.

Chapters 3 and 4 of the first 6 of

Memoirs of Service Afloat
During the War Between the States
by Admiral Raphael Semmes

3. From the Foundation of the Federal Government Down to 1830, Both the North and the South Held the Constitution to be a Compact Between the States.

4. Was Secession Treason?

Portrait of Rear Adm. Raphael Semmes by Maliby Sykes.
Portrait of Rear Adm. Raphael Semmes by Maliby Sykes.

Publisher's Note: The six chapters of Raphael Semmes's Memoirs of Service Afloat that I am publishing, two at a time, in these three blog articles, are an OUTSTANDING short constitutional history of our country that is not short on facts or truth. It cuts right to the chase.

ALL SCV, UDC and others should read the six chapters in these three posts but especially the two in this one, Chapters 3 and 4.

With this brilliant argument from one of the greatest naval commanders of all time, who commanded the greatest commerce raider in maritime history, the CSS Alabama, Semmes obliterates the fraudulent argument that secession was treason.

He turns it right back on the ignoramuses by pointing out that the New England States' Hartford Convention in the War of 1812, while absolutely correct about their right of secession, was unquestionably treasonous because they had demanded that we help their shipping by going to war with the British, then they changed their minds and started giving aid, comfort and support to the British.

Ironically, it was the Southern boys at the Battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson that defeated the British and ended that war, thus saving the New England States from dishonoring themselves any further.

The biggest absurdity in all of history is that these same New England traitors fought the War Between the States to free the slaves that they had brought here in the first place, making huge fortunes in the process like the money grubbing Yankees they were.

As with the War of 1812, they encouraged Lincoln to start the War Between the States so that they could continue their theft of Southern money that was going straight into their pockets via the Federal Government's tariffs, bounties, subsidies, monopolies, etc., proving, incontrovertibly, that the sectionalism and "tyranny of the majority" that had so worried the Founding Fathers, would, indeed, destroy the republic they had created.

CSS Alabama chasing a clipper ship.
CSS Alabama chasing a clipper ship.

Chapter III

From the Foundation of the Federal Government Down to 1830, Both the North and the South Held the Constitution to be a Compact Between the States.

One of the great difficulties in arguing the question of the relative power of the States and of the Federal Government, consists in the fact that the present generation has grown up under the shadow of the great Federal monster, and has been blinded by its giant proportions. They see around them all the paraphernalia and power of a great government -- its splendid capital, its armies, its fleets, its Chief Magistrate, its legislature, and its judiciary -- and they find it difficult to realize the fact, that all this grandeur is not self-created, but the offspring of the States.

When our late troubles were culminating, men were heard frequently to exclaim, with plaintive energy, "What! have we no government capable of preserving itself? Is our Government a mere rope of sand, that may be destroyed at the will of the States?"

These men seemed to think that there was but one government to be preserved, and that was the Government of the United States. Less than a century had elapsed since the adoption of the Constitution, and the generation now on the theatre of events had seemingly forgotten, that the magnificent structure, which they contemplated with so much admiration, was but a creature of the States; that it had been made by them for their convenience, and necessarily held the tenure of its life at sufferance.

CSS Alabama sinks the whaler Virginia.
CSS Alabama sinks the whaler Virginia.

They lost sight of the fact that the State governments, who were the creators of the Federal Government, were the governments to be preserved, if there should be any antagonism between them and the Federal Government; and that their services, as well as their sympathies, belonged to the former in preference to the latter.

What with the teachings of Webster and Story, and a host of satellites, the dazzling splendor of the Federal Government, and the overshadowing and corrupting influences of its power, nearly a whole generation in the North had grown up in ignorance of the true nature of the institutions, under which they lived.

This change in the education of the people had taken place since about the year 1830; for, up to that time, both of the great political parties of the country, the Whigs as well as the Democrats, had been States-Rights in doctrine.

A very common error has prevailed on this subject. It has been said, that the North and the South have always been widely separated in their views of the Constitution; that the men of the North have always been consolidationists, whilst the men of the South have been secessionists.

Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Whilst the North and the South, from the very commencement of the Government, have been at swords' points, on many questions of mere construction and policy,---the North claiming that more ample powers had been granted the Federal Government, than the South was willing to concede,---there never was any material difference between them down to the year 1830, as to the true nature of their Government.

They all held it to be a federal compact, and the Northern people were as jealous of the rights of their States under it, as the Southern people.

CSS Alabama in a cyclone in the Gulf Stream on 16 October 1862.
CSS Alabama in a cyclone in the Gulf Stream on 16 October 1862.

In proof of this, I have only to refer to a few of the well-known facts of our political history. Thomas Jefferson penned the famous Kentucky Resolution of '98 and '99. The first of those resolutions is in these words:

Resolved, That the several States comprising the United States of America are not united on the principles of unlimited submission to their general Government; but that by a compact, under the style and title of the Constitution of the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constitute a general Government for special purposes; and that whensoever the general Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party; that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, not the Constitution, the measure of its powers, but that, as in all cases of compact among persons having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress.

It is unnecessary to quote the other resolution, as the above contains all that is sufficient for my purpose, which is to show that Mr. Jefferson was a secessionist, and that with this record he went before the American people as a candidate for the Presidency, with the following results: In 1800 he beat his opponent, John Adams, who represented the consolidationists of that day, by a majority of 8 votes in the Electoral College.

In 1804, being a candidate for re-election, he beat his opponent by the overwhelming majority of 162, to 14 votes. In the Northern States alone, Mr. Jefferson received 85 votes, whilst in the same States his opponent received but 9. This was a pretty considerable indorsement of secession by the Northern States.

In 1808, Mr. Madison, who penned the Virginia Resolutions of '98, similar in tenor to the Kentucky Resolutions, became a candidate for the Presidency, and beat his opponent by a vote of 122 to 47; the Northern majority, though somewhat diminished, being still 50 to 39 votes.

Mr. Madison was reelected in 1812, and in 1816, James Monroe was elected President by a vote of 183 to his opponent's 34; and more than one half of these 183 votes came from the Northern States.

In 1820, Mr. Monroe was re-elected over John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, by a majority of 231 votes to 13. Besides Monroe and Adams, Crawford and Jackson were also candidates, but these two latter received only 11 votes between them.

Lts. Armstrong and Sinclair on the Alabama in August, 1863.

This last election is especially remarkable, as showing that there was no opposition to Jefferson's doctrine of State-Rights, since all the candidates were of that creed. The opposition had been so often defeated, and routed in former elections, that they had not strength enough left to put a candidate in the field.

John Quincy Adams succeeded Mr. Monroe, and his State-Rights doctrines are well known. He expressed them as follows:

The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation, is, after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may heaven avert it) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interests shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association will not long hold together parties, no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests, and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the dis-united States to part in friendship with each other, than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents, which occurred at the formation, and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the centre.

General Jackson succeeded Mr. Adams in 1828, and was re-elected in 1832. It was during his administration that the heresy was first promulgated by Mr. Webster, that the Constitution was not a compact between the States, but an instrument of government, "ordained, and established," by the people of the United States, in the aggregate, as one nation.

With respect to the New England States in particular, there is other and more pointed evidence, that they agreed with Mr. Jefferson, and the South down to the year 1830, on this question of State rights, than is implied in the Presidential elections above quoted.

Massachusetts, the leader of these States in intellect, and in energy, impatient of control herself, has always sought to control others. This was, perhaps, but natural. All mankind are prone to consult their own interests. Selfishness, unfortunately, is one of the vices of our nature, which few are found capable of struggling against effectually.

The New England people were largely imbued with the Puritan element. Their religious doctrines gave them a gloomy asceticism of character, and an intolerance of other men's opinions quite remarkable. In their earlier history as colonists, there is much in the way of uncharitableness and persecution, which a liberal mind could wish to see blotted out.

True to these characteristics, which I may almost call instincts, the New England States have always been the most refractory States of the Union. As long as they were in a minority, and hopeless of the control of the Government, they stood strictly on their State rights, in resisting such measures as were unpalatable to them, even to the extremity  of threatening secession; and it was only when they saw that the tables were turned, and that it was possible for them to seize the reins of the Government, that they abandoned their State-Rights doctrines, and became consolidationists.

One of the first causes of the dissatisfaction of the New England States with the General Government was the purchase of Louisiana, by Mr. Jefferson, in 1803. It arose out of their jealousy of the balance of power between the States.

The advantages to result to the United States from the purchase of this territory were patent to every one. It completed the continuity of our territory, from the head waters of the Mississippi, to the sea, and unlocked the mouths of that great river.

But Massachusetts saw in the purchase, nothing more than the creation of additional Southern States, to contest, with her, the future control of the Government. She could see no authority for it in the Constitution, and she threatened, that if it were consummated, she would secede from the Union.

Her Legislature passed the following resolution on the subject:

Resolved, That the annexation of Louisiana to the Union, transcends the Constitutional power of the Government of the United States. It formed a new Confederacy, to which the States [not the people of the United States, in the aggregate] united by the former compact, are not bound to adhere.

This purchase of Louisiana rankled, for a long time, in the breast of New England. It was made, as we have seen, in 1803, and in 1811 the subject again came up for consideration; this time, in the shape of a bill before Congress for the admission of Louisiana as a State.

One of the most able and influential members of Congress of that day from Massachusetts was Mr. Josiah Quincy. In a speech on this bill, that gentlemen uttered the following declaration:

If this bill passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is virtually a dissolution of the Union; that it will free the States from their moral obligation, and as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some definitely to prepare for separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must.

Time passed on, and the difficulties which led to our War of 1812, with Great Britain, began to rise above the political horizon. Great Britain began to impress seamen form New England merchant ships, and even went so far, at last, as to take some enlisted men from on board the United States ship of war Chesapeake.

Adm. Raphael Semmes, signature.
Adm. Raphael Semmes, signature.

Massachusetts was furious; she insisted that war should be declared forthwith against Great Britain.

The Southern States, which had comparatively little interest in this matter, except so far as the federal honor was concerned, came generously to the rescue of the shipping States, and war was declared.

But the first burst of her passion having spent itself, Massachusetts found that she had been indiscreet; her shipping began to suffer more than she had anticipated, and she began now to cry aloud as one in pain.

She denounced the war, and the Administration which was carrying it on; and not content with this, in connection with other New England States, she organized a Convention, at Hartford, in Connecticut, with a view to adopt some ulterior measures. We find the following among the records of that Convention:

Events may prove, that the causes of our calamities are deep, and permanent. They may be found to proceed not merely from blindness of prejudice, pride of opinion, violence of party spirit, or the confusion of the times; but they may be traced to implacable combinations, of individuals, or of States, to monopolize office, and to trample, without remorse, upon the rights and interests of the commercial sections of the Union. Whenever it shall appear, that these causes are radical, and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement, will be preferable to an alliance, by constraint, among nominal friends but real enemies, inflamed by mutual hatred, and jealousy, and inviting, by intestine divisions, contempt and aggressions from abroad.

Having recorded this opinion of what should be the policy of the New England States, in the category mentioned, the "Journal of the Convention" goes on to declare what it considers the right of the States, in the premises.

That acts of Congress, in violation of the Constitution, are absolutely void, is an indisputable position. It does not, however, consist with the respect, from a Confederate State toward the General Government, to fly to open resistance, upon every infraction of the Constitution. The mode, and the energy of the opposition should always conform to the nature of the violation, the intention of the authors, the extent of the evil inflicted, the determination manifested to persist in it, and the danger of delay. But in case of deliberate, dangerous, and palpable infractions of the Constitution, affecting the sovereignty of the State, and liberties of the people, it is not only the right, but the duty, of each State to interpose its authority for their protection, in the manner best calculated to secure that end. When emergencies occur, which are either beyond the reach of judicial tribunals, or too pressing to admit of the delay incident to their forms, States, which have no common umpire, must be their own judges, and execute their own decisions.

These proceeding took place in January, 1815. A deputation was appointed to lay the complains of New England before the Federal Government, and there is no predicting what might have occurred, if the delegates had not found, that peace had been declared, when they arrived at Washington.

It thus appears, that from 1803-4 to 1815, New England was constantly in the habit of speaking of the dissolution of the Union---her leading men deducing this right from the nature of the compact between the States.

Aboard the Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.
Aboard the Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.

It is curious and instructive, and will well repay the perusal, to read the "Journal of the Hartford Convention," so replete is it with sound constitutional doctrine. It abounds in such expressions as these: "The constitutional compact;" "It must be the duty of the State to watch over the rights reserved, as of the United States to exercise the powers which were delegated;" the right of conscription is "not delegated to Congress by the Constitution, and the exercise of it would not be less dangerous to their liberties, than hostile to the sovereignty of the States."

The odium which has justly fallen upon the Hartford Convention, has not been because of its doctrines, for these were as sound, as we have seen,  as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of '98 and '99, but because it was a secret conclave, gotten together, in a time of war, when the country was hard pressed by a foreign enemy; the war having, in fact, been undertaken for the benefit of the very shipping States which were threatening to dissolve the Union on account it.

Mr. John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, himself, as is well known, a Massachusetts man, speaking of this dissatisfaction of the New England States with the Federal Government, says:

That their object was, and had been, for several years, a dissolution of the Union and the establishment of a separate Confederation, he knew from unequivocal evidence, although not provable in a court of law; and that in case of a civil war, the aid of Great Britain, to effect that purpose, would be assuredly resorted to, as it would be indispensably necessary to their design.

See Mr. Adams' letter of Dec. 30th, 1828, in reply to Harrison Gray Otis and others.

We have thus seen, that for forty years, or from the foundation of the Federal Government, to 1830, there was no material difference of opinion between the sections, as to the nature of the league or compact of government which they had formed.

There was this difference between the sections, however. The South, during this entire period of forty years, had substantially controlled the Government; not by force, it is true, of her own majorities, but with the aid of a few of the Northern States. She was the dominant or ruling power in the Government. During all this time, she conscientiously adhered to her convictions, and respected the rights of the minority, though she might have wielded her power, if she had been so inclined, to her own advantage.

Constitutions are made for the protection of minorities, and she scrupulously adhered to this idea. Minorities naturally cling to the guarantees and defenses provided for them in the fundamental law; it is only when they become strong, when they throw off their pupilage, and become majorities, that their principles and their virtues are really tested. It is in politics, as in religion---the weaker party is always the tolerant party.

Did the North follow this example set her by the South? No; the moment she became strong enough, she recanted all the doctrines under which she had sought shelter, tore the Constitution into fragments, scattered it to the winds; and finally, when the South threw herself on the defensive, as Massachusetts had threatened to do, in 1803 and 1815, she subjugated her.

What was the powerful motive which thus induced the North to overthrow the government which it had labored so assiduously with the South to establish, and which it had construed in common with the South, for the period of forty years?

It was the motive which generally influences human conduct; it was the same motive which Patrick Henry had so clearly foreseen, when he warned the people of Virginia against entering into the federal compact; telling them, that interested majorities never had, in the history of the world, and never would respect the right of minorities.

The great "American System," as it has been called, had in the meantime arisen, championed by no less a personage than Henry Clay of Kentucky.

In 1824, and again in 1828, oppressive tariffs had been enacted for the protection of New England manufacturers. The North was manufacturing, the South non-manufacturing.

The effect of these tariffs was to shut out all foreign competition, and compel the Southern consumer to pay two prices for all the textile fabrics he consumed, from the clothing of his negroes to his own broadcloth coats.

So oppressive, unjust, and unconstitutional were these acts considered, that South Carolina nullified them in 1830.

CSS Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.
CSS Alabama, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 August 1863.

Immediately all New England was arrayed against South Carolina. An entire and rapid change took place in the political creed of that section.

New England orators and jurists rose up to proclaim that the Constitution was not a compact between the States. Webster thundered in the Senate, and Story wrote his "Commentaries on the Constitution."

These giants had a Herculean task before them; nothing less than the falsifying of the whole political history of the country, for the previous forty years; but their barren  and inhospitable section of the country had been touched by the enchanter's wand, and its rocky hills, and sterile fields, incapable of yielding even a scanty subsistence to its numerous population, were to become glad with the music of the spindle and the shuttle; and the giants undertook the task!

How well they have accomplished it, the reader will see, in the course of these pages, when, toward the conclusion of my narrative, he will be called upon to view the fragments of the grand old Constitution, which has been shattered, and which will lie in such mournful profusion around him; the monuments at once of the folly and crimes of a people, who have broken up a government---a free government---which might else have endured for centuries.

Chapter IV.
Was Secession Treason?

A few more words, and we shall be in a condition to answer the question which stands at the head of this chapter.

Being a legal question, it will depend entirely upon the constitutional right the Southern States may have had to withdraw from the Union, without reference to considerations of expediency, or of moral right; these latter will be more appropriately considered, when we come to speak of the causes which impelled the Southern States to the step. I have combated many of the arguments presented by the other side, but a few others remain to be noticed.

It has been said, that, admitting that the Constitution was a federal compact, yet the States did in fact cede away a part of their sovereignty, and from this the inference has been deduced, that they no longer remained sovereign for the purpose of recalling the part, which had been ceded away.

This is a question which arises wholly under the laws of nations. It is admitted, that the States were independent sovereignties, before they formed the Constitution.

We have only, therefore, to consult the international code, to ascertain to what extent the granting away of a portion of their sovereignty affected the remainder.

Vattel, treating of this identical point, speaks as follows:

Several sovereign and independent States may unite themselves together by a perpetual confederacy, without ceasing to be, each individually, a perfect State. They will, together, constitute a federal republic; their joint deliberations will not impair the sovereignty of each member, though they may, in certain respects, put some restraint upon the exercise of it, in virtue of voluntary engagements.

That was just what the American States did, when they formed the Federal Constitution; they put some voluntary restraint upon their sovereignty, for the furtherance of a common object.

If they are restrained, by the Constitution, from doing certain things, the restraint was self-imposed, for it was they who ordained, and established the instrument, and not a common superior. They, each, agreed that they would forbear to do certain things, if their copartners would forbear to do the same things.

As plain as this seems, no less an authority than that of Mr. Webster has denied it; for, in his celebrated argument Mr. Calhoun, already referred to, he triumphantly exclaimed, that the States were not sovereign, because they were restrained of a portion of their liberty by the Constitution.

See how he perverts the whole tenor of the instrument, in his endeavor to build up those manufactories of which we spoke in the last chapter. He says:

However men may think this ought to be, the fact is, that the people of the United States have chosen to impose control on State sovereignty. There are those, doubtless, who wish that they had been left without restraint; but the Constitution has ordered the matter differently. To make war, for instance, is an exercise of sovereignty, but, the Constitution declares that no State shall declare war. To coin money is another act of sovereign power; but no State is at liberty to coin money. Again, the Constitution says, that no sovereign State shall be so sovereign, as to make a treaty. These prohibitions, it must be confessed, are a control on the State sovereignty of South Carolina, as well as of the other States, which does not arise from her feelings of honorable justice.

Here we see, plainly, the germ of the monstrous heresy that has riven the States asunder, in our day.

The "people of the United States," a common superior, ordained and established the Constitution, says Mr. Webster, and imposed restraints upon the States!

However some might wish they had been left without restraint, the Constitution has "ordained it differently!"

And the ostrich stomach of the North received, and digested this monstrous perversion of the plainest historical truth, in order that the spindle might whirr on, and the shuttle dance from side to side of the loom.

CSS Alabama officers.
CSS Alabama officers.

Following the idea of Mr. Webster, that the people of the United States gave constitutional law to the States, instead of receiving it from them, Northern writers frequently ask, in what part of the Constitution, is the doctrine of secession found?

In no part. It was not necessary to put it there.

The States who formed the instrument, delegated certain powers to the Federal Government, retaining all others.

Did they part, with the right of secession? Could they have parted with it, without consenting to a merger of their sovereignty?

And so far from doing this, we have seen with what jealous care they protested against even the implication of such a merger, in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

If the power was not parted with, by explicit grant, did it not remain to them, even before the 10th Amendment was adopted, and still more, if possible, after it was adopted?

To make it still more apparent, that the common understanding among the Fathers of the Constitution was, that this right of secession was reserved, it is only necessary to refer to what took place, during the transition from the old to the new government.

The thirteen original States seceded, as we have seen, from the Articles of Confederation, not unanimously, or all together, but one by one, each State acting for itself, without consulting the interests, or inclinations of the others.

One of the provisions of those Articles was as follows:

Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States, in Congress assembled, in all questions, which, by this Confederation, are submitted to them; and the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration, as any time hereafter, be made in any of them, unless such alteration be agreed to, in a Congress of the United States, and be afterward confirmed by the legislature of every State.

Now, it is a pertinent, and instructive fact, that no similar provision of perpetuity was engrafted in the new Constitution.

There must have been a motive for this -- it could not have been a mere accidental omission -- and the motive probably was, that the Convention of 1787 were ashamed to attempt, a second time, to bind sovereign States, by a rope of sand, which they, themselves, were in the act of pulling asunder.

It was in accordance with this understanding, that both New York and Virginia, in their ratification of the new Constitution, expressly reserved to themselves the right of secession; and no objection was made to such conditional ratifications.

The reservations made by these States enure, as a matter of course, to the benefit of all the States, as they were all to go into the new Union, on precisely the same footing. [NOTE: Raphael Semmes accidentally leaves out Rhode Island, which also reserved the right of secession along with New York and Virginia, before acceding to the U.S. Constitution].

In the extract from Mr. Webster's speech, which has been given above, it is alleged among other things, that the States are not sovereign, because they cannot make treaties; and this disability also has been urged as an argument against secession.

The disability, like others, was self-imposed, and, as any one may see, was intended to be binding on the States only so long as they contract which they were then forming should endure.

The Confederate States respected this obligation while they remained in the Federal Union. They scrupulously forbore from contracting with each other until they had resumed, each for itself, their original sovereignty; they were then not only free to contract with each other, but to do and perform all the other acts enumerated by Mr. Webster; the act of declaring war included, even though this was should be against their late confederates.

The truth is, the more we sift these arguments of our late enemies, the less real merit there appears in them. The facts of history are too stubborn, and refuse to be bent to conform to the new doctrines.

We see it emblazoned on every page of American history for forty years, that the Constitution was a compact between the States; that the Federal Government was created, by, and for the benefit of the States, and possessed and could possess no other power than such as was conferred upon it by the States; that the States reserved to themselves all the powers not granted, and that they took especial pains to guard their sovereignty, in terms, by an amendment to the Constitution, lest, by possibility, their intentions in the formation of the new government, should be misconstrued.

In the course of time this government is perverted from its original design. Instead of remaining the faithful and impartial agent of all the States, a faction obtains control of it, in the interests of some of them, and turns it, as an engine of oppression, against the others.

These latter, after long and patient suffering, after having exhausted all their means of defense, within the Union, withdraw from the agent the powers which they had conferred upon him, form a new Confederacy, and desire "to be let alone."

And what is the consequence? They are denounced as rebels and traitors, armies are equipped, and fleets provided, and a war of subjugation is waged against them.

What says the reader? Does he see rebellion and treason lurking in the conduct of these States? Are they, indeed, in his opinion, in face of the record which he has inspected, so bereft of their sovereignty, as to be incapable of defending themselves, except with halters around the necks of their citizens?

Let us examine this latter question of halters for a moment.

The States existed before the Federal Government; the citizens of the States owed allegiance to their respective States, and to none others. By what process was any portion of this allegiance transferred to the Federal Government, and to what extent was it transferred?

It was transferred by the States, themselves, when they entered into the federal compact, and not by the individual citizens, for these had not power to make such a transfer.

Although it be admitted, that a citizen of any one of the States may have had the right to expatriate himself entirely -- and this was not so clear a doctrine at that day -- and transfer his allegiance to another government, yet it is quite certain, that he could not, ex mero motu, divide his allegiance. His allegiance then was transferred to the Federal Government, by his State, whether he would or not.

Take the case of Patrick Henry, for example. He resisted the adoption of the Federal Constitution, by the State of Virginia, with all the energies of an ardent nature, solemnly believing that his State was committing suicide.

And yet, when Virginia did adopt that Constitution, he became, by virtue of that act, a citizen of the United States, and owed allegiance to the Federal Government.

He had been born in the hallowed old Commonwealth. In the days of his boyhood he had played on the banks of the Appomattox, and fished in its waters.

As he grew to man's estate, all his cherished hopes, and aspirations clustered around his beloved State. The bones of his ancestors were interred in her soil; his loves, his joys, his sorrows were all centered there.

In short, he felt the inspiration of patriotism, that noble sentiment which nerves men to do, and dare, unto the death, for their native soil.

Will it be said, can it be said, without revolting all the best feelings of the human heart, that if Patrick Henry had lived to see a war of subjugation waged against his native State, he would have been a traitor for striking in her defense?

Was this one of the results which our ancestors designed, when they framed the federal compact?

It would be uncharitable to accuse them of such folly, and stupidity, nay of such cruelty.

If this doctrine be true, that secession is treason, then our ancestors framed a government, which could not fail to make traitors of their descendants, in case of a conflict between the States, and that government, let them act as they would.

It was frequently argued in the "Federalist," and elsewhere, by those who were persuading the States to adopt the Federal Constitution, that the State would have a sufficient guarantee of protection, in the love, and affection of its citizens -- that the citizen would naturally cling to his State, and side with her against the Federal Government -- that, in fact, it was rather to be apprehended that the Federal Government would be too weak, and the States too strong, for this reason, instead of the converse of the proposition being true.

It was not doubted, in that day, that the primary and paramount allegiance of the citizen was due to his State, and, that, in case of a conflict between her and the Federal Government, his State would have the right to withdraw his allegiance, from that Government.

If it was she who transferred it, and if she had the right to transfer it, it followed beyond question, that she would have the right to withdraw it.

It was not a case for the voluntary action of the citizen, either way; he could not, of his own free will, either give his allegiance to the Federal Government, or take it away.

If this be true, observe in what a dilemma he has been placed, on the hypothesis that secession is treason. If he adheres to the Federal Government, after his State has withdrawn his allegiance from that Government, and takes up arms against his State, he becomes a traitor to his State.

If he adheres to his State, and takes up arms against the Federal Government, he becomes a traitor to that Government.

He is thus a traitor either way, and there is no helping himself. Is this consistent with the supposed wisdom of the political Fathers, those practical, common sense men, who formed the Federal Constitution?

The mutations of governments, like all human events, are constantly going on. No government stands still, any more than the individuals of which it is composed.

Commander Raphael Semmes, Confederate States Navy.

The only difference is, that the changes are not quite so obvious to the generation which views them.

The framers of the Constitution did not dare to hope that they had formed a government, that was to last forever. Nay, many of them had serious misgivings as to the result of the experiment they were making.

Is it possible, then, that those men so legislated, as to render it morally certain, that if their experiment should fail, their descendants must become either slaves or traitors?

If the doctrine that secession is treason be true, it matters not how grievously a State might be oppressed, by the Federal Government; she has been deprived of the power of lawful resistance, and must regain her liberty, if at all, like other enslaved States, at the hazard of war, and rebellion.

Was this the sort of experiment in government, that our forefathers supposed they were making?

Every reader of history knows that it was not.

NOTE: The text above comes, verbatim, from Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, Chapters III and IV, by Adm. Raphael Semmes. The paragraphs were sometimes broken up to make reading online easier.

Our Confederate Ancestors: Admiral Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat, Chapters 1 and 2

A Series on the Daring Exploits of Our Confederate Ancestors in the War Between the States.

Chapters 1 and 2 of the first 6 of

Memoirs of Service Afloat
During the War Between the States
by Admiral Raphael Semmes

1. A Brief Historical Retrospective
2. The Nature of the American Compact

Admiral Raphael Semmes, commander of the legendary raider CSS Alabama.
Admiral Raphael Semmes, commander of the legendary raider CSS Alabama.
Inscription by Adm. Raphael Semmes in Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States.

Publisher's Note: Adm. Raphael Semmes, famed commander of the legendary Confederate raider, Alabama, wrote a brief, concise and brilliant history of the Articles of Confederation, the establishment of the U. S. Constitution and the right of secession, in the first six chapters of his 833 page book, Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States. The CSS Alabama took 65 prizes and is the most successful commerce raider in maritime history. Semmes, from Charles County, Maryland was in the U.S. Navy from 1826 to 1861. He fought in the Mexican War as commander of the USS Somers. He served in the Confederate States Navy from 1861 to 1865, first as commander of the raider CSS Sumter, causing 18 losses to the Union, then the CSS Alabama. Alabama was originally the newly built British steamer Enrica. After Alabama's dazzling career, she was sunk by the USS Kearsarge commanded by John Ancrum Winslow near Cherbourg, France in one of the most famous naval battles of the war, June 19, 1864. Alabama was at a disadvantage because of deteriorated gun powder and shell fuses, and a rare day of poor aim by her gunners. Semmes and survivors made their way back to America and finally Richmond where he commanded the ironclad CSS Virginia II of the James River Squadron. After Richmond fell, he became a temporary brigadier general, informally, and his sailors became an infantry unit  known as the "Naval Brigade." Most of them ended up with Johnston's army near Durham Station, North Carolina and surrendered to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman April 26, 1865. After the war, Semmes worked as a college professor at what is today LSU, a judge, a newspaper editor, and author. He died August 30, 1877 at age 67 at Mobile, Alabama and is buried there with his wife Anne E. Spencer Semmes. The town of Semmes, Alabama is named for Raphael Semmes as were several United States Navy ships. Publishing information: Baltimore: Kelly, Piat & Co., 1869. For more information on Raphael Semmes visit the website of the Admiral Raphael Semmes Camp #11, SCV, in Mobile Alabama: Several of the pictures in this post come from their outstanding website.

CSS Alabama, the most successful commerce raider in maritime history.
CSS Alabama, the most successful commerce raider in maritime history.
Chapter I.
A Brief Historical Retrospect.

The disruption of the American Union by the war of 1861 was not an unforeseen event. Patrick Henry, and other patriots who struggled against the adoption of the Federal Constitution by the Southern States, foretold it in burning words of prophecy; and when that instrument was adopted, when the great name and great eloquence of James Madison had borne down all opposition, Henry and his compatriots seemed particularly anxious that posterity should be informed of the manly struggle which they had made.

Henry said,

The voice of tradition, I trust, will inform posterity of our struggles for freedom. If our descendants be worthy of the name of Americans, they will preserve, and hand down to the latest posterity, the transactions of the present times; and though I confess my explanations are not worth the hearing, they will see I have done my utmost to preserve their liberty.

The wish of these patriotic men has been gratified. The record of their noble deeds, and all but inspired eloquence, has come down to posterity, and some, at least, of their descendants, "worthy of the name of American," will accord to them the foremost rank in the long list of patriots and sages who illustrated and adorned our early annals.

But posterity, too, has a history to record and hand down. We, too, have struggled to preserve our liberties, and the liberties of those who are to come after us; and the history of that struggle must not perish. The one struggle is but the complement of the other, and history would be incomplete if either were omitted.

Events have vindicated the wisdom of Henry, and those who struggled with him against the adoption of the Federal Constitution.

Events will equally vindicate the wisdom of Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate patriots, who endeavored to preserve that Constitution, and hand it down, unimpaired, to their posterity.

The wisdom of a movement is not always to be judged by its success.

Principles are eternal, human events are transitory, and it sometimes takes more than one generation or one revolution to establish a principle.

At first sight, it may appear that there is some discordance between  Patrick Henry and Jefferson Davis, as the one struggled against the adoption of the Constitution, and the other to preserve it.

But they were, in fact, both engaged in a similar struggle; the object of both being to preserve the sovereignty of their respective States.

Henry did not object so much to the nature of the partnership, into which his State was about to enter, as to the nature of the partners with whom she was about to contract.

He saw that the two sections were dissimilar, and that they had different and antagonistic interests, and he was unwilling to trust to the bona fides of the other contracting party. "I am sure," said he,

that the dangers of this system are real, when those who have no similar interests with the people of this country are to legislate to us -- when our dearest interests are to be left in the hands of those whose advantage it will be to infringe them.

The North, even at that early day, was in a majority in both houses of Congress; it would be for the advantage of that majority to infringe the rights of the South; and Henry, with much more knowledge of human nature than most of the Southern statesmen of his era, refused to trust that majority.

This was substantially the case with Jefferson Davis and those of us who followed his lead. We had verified the distrust of Henry.

What had been prophecy with him, had become history with us. We had had experience of the fact, that our partner-States of the North, who were in a majority, had trampled upon the rights of the Southern minority, and we desired, as the only remedy, to dissolve the partnership into which Henry had objected to entering -- not so much because of any defect in the articles of copartnership, as for want of faith in our copartners.

This was the wisdom of Jefferson Davis and his compatriots, which, I say, will be vindicated by events. A final separation of these States must come, or the South will be permanently enslaved.

We endeavored to bring about the separation, and we sacrificed our fortunes, and risked our lives to accomplish it.

Like Patrick Henry, we have done our "utmost to preserve our liberties;" like him, we have failed and like him, we desire that our record shall go down to such of our posterity as may be "worthy of the name of Americans."

The following memoirs are designed to commemorate a few of the less important events of our late struggle; but before I enter upon them, I deem it appropriate to give some "reason for the faith" that was in us, of the South, who undertook the struggle.

The judgment which posterity will form upon our actions will depend, mainly, upon the answers which we may be able to give to two questions: First, Had the South the right to dissolve the compact of government under which it had lived with the North? and, secondly, Was there sufficient reason for such dissolution?

I do not speak here of the right of revolution -- this is inherent in all peoples, whatever may be their form of government. The very term "revolution" implies a forcible disruption of government, war, and all the evils that follow in the train of war.

The thirteen original Colonies, the germ from which have sprung these States, exercised the right of revolution when they withdrew their allegiance from the parent country.

Not so with the Southern States when they withdrew from their copartnership with the Northern States. They exercised a higher right.

They did not form a part of a consolidated government, as the Colonies did of the British Government.

They were sovereign, equally with the Northern States, from which they withdrew, and exercises, as they believed, a peaceful right, instead of a right of revolution.

Had, then, the Southern States the peaceful right to dissolve the compact of government under which they had lived with the North?

A volume might be written in reply to this question, but I shall merely glance at it in these memoirs, referring the student to the history of the formation of the old Confederacy, prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States; to the "Journal and debates of the Convention of 1787," that formed this latter instrument; to the debates of the several State Conventions which adopted it, to the "Madison Papers," to the "Federalists," and to the late very able work of Dr. Bledsoe, entitled "Is Davis a Traitor?"

It will be sufficient for the purpose which I have in view -- that of giving the reader a general outline of the course of reasoning, by which Southern men justify their conduct in the late war -- to state the leading features of the compact of government which was dissolved, and a few of its historical surroundings, about which there can be no dispute.

The close of the War of Independence of 1776 found the thirteen original Colonies, which had waged that war, sovereign and independent States.

They had, for the purpose of carrying on that war, formed a league, or confederation, and the articles of this league were still obligatory upon them.

Under these articles, a Federal Government had been established, charged with a few specific powers, such as conducting the foreign affairs of the Confederacy, the regulation of commerce, &c.

At the formation of this Government, it was intended that it should be perpetual, and was so declared.

It lasted, notwithstanding, only a few years, for peace was declared in 1783, and the perpetual Government ceased to exist in 1789.

How did it cease to exist? By the secession of the States.

Soon after the war, a convention of delegates met at Annapolis in Maryland, sent thither by the several States, for the purpose of devising some more perfect means of regulating commerce. This was all the duty with which they were charged.

Upon assembling, it was found that several of the States were not represented in this Convention, in consequence of which, the Convention adjourned without transacting any business, and recommended, in an address prepared by Alexander Hamilton, that a new convention should be called at Philadelphia, with enlarged powers.

"The Convention," says Hamilton,

are more naturally led to this conclusion, as in their reflections on the subject, they have been induced to think, that the power of regulating trade is of such comprehensive extent, and will enter so far into the great system of the Federal Government, that to give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits, may require a corresponding adjustment in other parts of the Federal system. That these are important defects in the system of the Federal Government is acknowledged by the acts of those States, which have concurred in the present meeting. That the defects, upon closer examination, may be found greater and more numerous than  even these acts imply, is at least, so far probable, from the embarrassments which characterize the  present state of our national affairs, foreign and domestic, as may reasonably be supposed to merit a deliberate and candid discussion, in some mode which will unite the sentiments and counsels of all the States.

The reader will observe that the Government of the States, under the Articles of Confederation, is called a "Federal Government," and that the object proposed to be accomplished by the meeting of the new Convention at Philadelphia, was to amend the Constitution of that Government.

Northern writers have sought to draw a distinction between the Government formed under the Articles of Confederation, and that formed by the Constitution of the United States, calling the one a league, and the other a government.

Here we see Alexander Hamilton calling the Confederation a government -- a Federal Government.

It was, indeed, both a league and a government, as it was formed by sovereign States; just as the Government of the United States is both a league and a government, for the same reason.

The fact that the laws of the Confederation, passed in pursuance of its League, or Constitution, were to operate upon the States; and the laws of the United States were to operate upon the individual citizens of the States, without the intervention of State authority, could make no difference.

This did not make the latter more a government than the former. The difference was a mere matter of detail, a mere matter of machinery -- nothing more. It did not imply more or less absolute sovereignty in the one case, than in the other.

Whatever of sovereignty had been granted, had been granted by the States, in both instances.

The new convention met in Philadelphia, on the 14th of May, 1787, with instructions to devise and discuss "all such alterations, and further provisions as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union."

We see, thus, that the very Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States, equally called the Articles of Confederation a Constitution.

It was, then, from a Constitutional, Federal Government, that the States seceded when they adopted the present Constitution of the United States!

A Convention of the States assembled with powers only to amend the Constitution; instead of doing which, it abolished the old form of government altogether, and recommended a new one, and no one complained.

As each State formally and deliberately adopted the new government, it was formally and deliberately seceded from the old one; and yet no one heard any talk of a breach of faith, and still less of treason.

The new government was to go into operation when nine States should adopt it.

But there were thirteen States, and if nine States only acceded to the new government, the old one would be broken up, as to the other four States, whether these would or not, and they wold be left to provide for themselves.

It was by no means the voluntary breaking up of a compact, by all the parties to it.

It was broken up piece-meal, each State acting for itself, without asking the consent of the others; precisely as the Southern States acted, with a view to the formation of a new Southern Confederacy.

So far from the movement being unanimous, it was a long time before all the States came into the new government.

Rhode Island, one of the Northern States, which hounded on the war against the Southern States, retained her separate sovereignty for two years before she joined the new government, not uttering one word of complaint, during all that time, that the old government, of which she had been a member, had been unduly broken up, and that she had been left to shift for herself.

Why was this disruption of the old government regarded as a matter of course?

Simply because it was a league, or treaty, between sovereign States, from which any one of the States had the right to withdraw at any time, with out consulting the interest or advantage of the others.

But, say the Northern States, the Constitution of the United States is a very different thing from the Articles of Confederation. It was formed, not by the States, but by the people of the United States in the aggregate, and made all the States one people, one government. It is not a compact, or league between the States, but an instrument under which they have surrendered irrevocably their sovereignty. Under it, the Federal Government has become the paramount authority, and the States are subordinate to it.

We will examine this doctrine, briefly, in another chapter.

Chapter II.
The Nature of the American Compact.

The two principal expounders of the Constitution of the United States, in the North have been Daniel Webster and Joseph Story, both from Massachusetts.

Webster was, for a long time, a Senator in Congress, and Story a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The latter has written an elaborate work on the Constitution, full of sophistry, and not always very reliable as to its facts.

The great effort of both these men has been to prove, that the Constitution is not a compact between the States, but an instrument of government, formed by the people of the United States, as contra-distinguished from the States.

They both admit, that if the Constitution were a compact between the States, the States would have a right to withdraw from the compact -- all agreements between States, in their sovereign capacity, being, necessarily, of no more binding force than treaties.

These gentlemen are not always very consistent, for they frequently fall into the error of calling the Constitution a compact, when they are not arguing this particular question; in short, it is, and it is not a compact, by turns, according to the use they intend to make of the argument.

Mr. Webster's doctrine of the Constitution, chiefly relied on by Northern men, is to be found in his speech of 1833, in reply to Mr. Calhoun.

It is in that speech that he makes the admission, that if the Constitution of the United States is a compact between the States, the States have the right to withdraw from it at pleasure. He says,

If a league between sovereign powers have no limitation as to the time of duration, and contains nothing making it perpetual, it subsists only during the good pleasure of the parties, although no violation be complained of. If in the opinion of either party it be violated, such party may say he will no longer fulfill its obligations, on his part, but will consider the whole league or compact as at an end, although it might be one of its stipulations that it should be perpetual.

Capt. Raphael Semmes and 1st Lt. John Kell on CSS Alabama, 1863.
Capt. Raphael Semmes and 1st Lt. John Kell on CSS Alabama, 1863.

In his "Commentaries on the Constitution," Mr. Justice Story says,

The obvious deductions which may be, and indeed have been drawn, from considering the Constitution a compact between States, are, that it operates as a mere treaty, or convention between them, and has an obligatory force no longer than suits their pleasure, or their consent continues." The plain principles of public law, thus announced by these distinguished jurists, cannot be controverted. If sovereign States make a compact, although the object of the compact be the formation of a new government for their common benefit, they have the right to withdraw from that compact at pleasure, even though, in the words of Mr. Webster, "it might be one of its stipulations that it should be perpetual.

There might, undoubtedly, be such a thing as State merger; that is, that two States, for instance, might agree that the sovereign existence of one of them should be merged in the other. In which case, the State parting with its sovereignty could never reclaim it by peaceable means.

But when a State shows no intention of parting with its sovereignty, and, in connection with other States, all equally jealous of their sovereignty with herself, only delegates a part of it -- never so large a part, if you please -- to the common agent, for the benefit of the whole, there can have been no merger.

This was eminently the case with regard to these United States.

No one can read the "Journal and debates of the Philadelphia Convention," or those of the several State Conventions to which the Constitution was submitted for adoption, without being struck with the scrupulous care with which all the States guarded their sovereignty.

The Northern States were quite as jealous, in this respect, as the Southern States.

Next to Massachusetts, New Hampshire has been, perhaps, the most fanatical and bitter of the former States, in the prosecution of the late war against the South. That State, in her Constitution, adopted in 1792, three years after the Federal Constitution went into operation, inserted the following provision, among others, in her declaration of principles:

The people of this Commonwealth have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and of and forever hereafter shall exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them, expressly delegated to the United States.

Although it was quite clear that the States, when they adopted the Constitution of the United States, reserved, by implication, all the sovereign power, rights, and privileges that had not been granted away -- as a power not given is necessarily withheld -- yet so jealous were they of the new government they were forming, that several of them insisted, in their acts of ratification, that the Constitution should be so amended as explicitly to declare this truth, and this put it beyond cavil in the future.

Massachusetts expressed herself as followed, in connection with her ratification of the Constitution:

As it is the opinion of this Convention, that certain amendments and alterations in said Constitution would remove the fears, and quiet the apprehensions of the good people of the Commonwealth, and more effectually guard against an undue administration of the Federal Government, the Convention do, therefore, recommend that the following alteration and provisions be introduced and in said Constitution: First, that it be explicitly declared, that all powers not delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several States, to be by them exercised.

Webster and Story had not yet arisen in Massachusetts, to teach the new doctrine that the Constitution had been formed by the "People of the United States," in contra-distinction to the people of the States.

Massachusetts did not speak in the name of any such people, but in her own name. She was not jealous of the remaining people of the United States, as fractional parts of a whole, of which she was herself a fraction, but she was jealous of them as States; as so many foreign peoples, with whom she was contracting.

The powers not delegated were to be reserved to those delegating them, to wit: the "several States;" that is to say, to each and every one of the States.

Virginia fought long and sturdily against adopting the Constitution at all.

Henry, Mason, Tyler, and a host of other giants raised their powerful voices against it, warning their people, in thunder tones, that they were rushing upon destruction.

Tyler even went so far as to say that "British tyranny would have been more tolerable."

So distasteful to her was the foul embrace that was tendered her, that she not only recommended an amendment of the Constitution, similar to that which was recommended by Massachusetts, making explicit reservation of her sovereignty, but she annexed a condition to her ratification, to the effect that she retained the right to withdraw the powers which she had granted, "whenever the same shall be perverted to her injury or oppression."

North Carolina urged the following amendment -- the same, substantially, as that urged by Virginia and Massachusetts:

That each State in the Union shall respectively [not aggregately] retain every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this Constitution delegated to the Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the Federal Government.

Pennsylvania guarded her sovereignty by insisting upon the following amendment:

All the rights of sovereignty which are not, by the said Constitution, expressly and plainly vested in the Congress, shall be deemed to remain with, and shall be exercised by the several States in the Union.

The result of this jealousy on the part of the States was the adoption of the 10th amendment to the Constitution of the United States as follows:

The powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, or to the people.

It is thus clear beyond doubt, that he States not only had no intention of merging their sovereignty in the new government they were forming, but that they took special pains to notify each other, as well as their common agent, of the fact.

The language which I have quoted, as used by the States, in urging the amendments to the Constitution proposed by them, was the common language of that day.

The new government was a federal or confederate government -- in the "Federalist," it is frequently called a "Confederation" -- which had been created by the States for their common use and benefit; each State taking special pains, as we have seen, to declare that it retained all the sovereignty which it had not expressly granted away.

And yet, in face of these facts, the doctrine has been boldly declared, in our day, that the Constitution was formed by the people of the United States in the aggregate, as one nation, and that it has a force and vitality independent of the States, which the States are incompetent to destroy!

The perversion is one not so much of doctrine as of history. It is an issue of fact which we are to try.

CSS Alabama, Cape Town, 12 August 1863.
CSS Alabama, Cape Town, 12 August 1863.

It is admitted, that if the fact be as stated by our Northern brethren, the conclusion follows: It is, indeed, quite plain, that if the States did not create the Federal Constitution, they cannot destroy it.

But it is admitted, on the other hand, by both Webster and Story, as we have seen, that if they did create it, they may destroy it; nay, that any one of them may destroy it as to herself; that is, may withdraw from the compact at pleasure, with or without reason.

It is fortunate for us of the South that the issue is so plain, as that it may be tried by the record.

Sophistry will sometimes overlie reason and blind men's judgment for generations; but sophistry, with all its ingenuity, cannot hide a fact.

The speeches of Webster and the commentaries of Story have been unable to hide the fact of which I speak; it stands emblazoned on every page of our constitutional history.

Every step that was taken toward the formation of the Constitution of the United States, from its inception to its adoption, was taken by the States, and not by the people of the United States in the aggregate.

There was no such people known as the people of the United States, in the aggregate, at the time of the formation of the Constitution.

If there is any such people now, it was formed by the Constitution.

But this is not the question. The question now is, who formed the Constitution, not what was formed by it?

If it was formed by the States, admit our adversaries, it may be broken by the States.

The delegates who met at Annapolis were sent thither by the States, and not by the people of the United States.

The Convention of 1787, which formed the Constitution, was equally composed of members sent to Philadelphia by the States.

James Madison was chosen by the people of Virginia, and not by the people of New York; Alexander Hamilton was chosen by the people of New York, and not by the people of Virginia.

Every article, section, and paragraph of the Constitution was voted for, or against, by States; the little State of Delaware, not much larger than a single county of New York, offsetting the vote of that great State.

And when the Constitution was formed, to whom was it submitted for ratification?

Was there any convention of the people of the United States in the aggregate, as one nation, called for the purpose of considering it?

Did not each State on the contrary, call its own convention?

And did not some of the States accept it, and some of them refuse to accept it?

It was provided that when nine States should accept it, it should go into operation; and it pretended that the vote of these nine States was to bind the others?

Is it not a fact, on the contrary, that the vote of eleven States did not bind the other two?

Where was that great constituency, composed of the people of the United States in the aggregate, as one nation, all this time?

"But," say those who are opposed to us in this argument, "look at the instrument itself, and you will see that it was framed by the people of the United States, and not by the States.

Does not its Preamble read thus: 'We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, &c., do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America'?"

Perhaps there has never been a greater literary and historical fraud practiced upon any people, than has been attempted in the use to which these words have been put.

And, perhaps, no equal number of reading and intelligent men has ever before submitted so blindly and docilely to one imposed upon by literary quackery and the legerdemain of words, as our fellow-citizens of the North have in accepting Webster's and Story's version of the preamble of the Constitution.

A brief history of the manner, in which the words, "We, the people," &c., came to be adopted by the Convention which framed the Constitution, will sufficiently expose the baldness of the cheat.

The only wonder is, that such men as Webster and Story should have risked their reputations with posterity, on a construction which may so easily be shorn to be a falsification of the facts of history.

Mr. Webster, in his celebrated speech in the Senate, in 1833, in reply to Mr. Calhoun, made this bold declaration: "The Constitution itself, in its very front, declares, that it was ordained and established by the people of the United States in the aggregate!"

From that day to this, this declaration of Mr. Webster has been the chief foundation on which all the constitutional lawyers of the North have built their arguments against the rights of the States as sovereign copartners.

If the Preamble of the Constitution stood alone, without the lights of contemporaneous history to reveal its true character, there might be some force in Mr. Webster's position; but, unfortunately for him and his followers, he has misstated a fact.

It is not true, as every reader of constitutional history must know, that the Constitution of the United States was ordained by the people of the United States in the aggregate; nor did the Preamble to the Constitution mean to assert that it was true.

The great names of Webster, and Story have been lent to a palpable falsification of history, and as a result of that falsification, a great war has ensued, which has sacrificed its hecatomb of victims, and desolated, and nearly destroyed an entire people.

The poet did not say, without reason, that "words are things."

Now let us strip off the disguises worn by these wordmongers, and see where the truth really lies.

Probably some of my readers will learn, for the first time, the reasons which induced the framers of the Constitution to adopt the phraseology, "We, the people," &c., in the formation of their Preamble to that instrument.

In the original draft of the Constitution, the States, by name, were mentioned, as had been done in the Articles of Confederation. The States had formed the old Confederation, the States were equally forming the new Confederation; hence the Convention naturally followed in their Preamble the form which had been set them in the old Constitution, or Articles.

This Preamble, purporting that the work of forming the new government was being done by the States, remained at the head of the instrument during all the deliberations of the Convention, and no one member ever objected to it.

It expressed a fact which no one thought of denying. it is thus a fact beyond question, not only that the Constitution was framed by the States, but that the Convention so proclaimed in "front of the instrument."

Having been framed by the States, was it afterward adopted, or "ordained and established," to use the words of Mr. Webster, by the people of the United States, in the aggregate, and was this the reason why the words were changed?

There were in the Convention several members in favor of submitting the instrument to the people of the United States in the aggregate, and thereby accomplishing their favorite object of establishing a consolidated government -- Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris among the number.

On the "Journal of the Convention," the following record is found: "Gouverneur Morris moved that the reference of the plan [i.e. of the Constitution] be made to one General Convention, chosen and authorized by the people, to consider, amend, and establish the same."

Thus the question, as to who should "ordain and establish" the Constitution, whether it should be the people in the aggregate, or the people of the States, was clearly presented to the Convention.

How did the Convention vote on this proposition?

The reader will perhaps be surprised to learn, that the question was not even brought to a vote, for want of a second; and yet this is the fact recorded by the Convention.

The reader who has read Mr. Madison's articles in the "Federalist," and his speeches before the Virginia Convention, in favor of the ratification of the Constitution, will perhaps be surprised to learn that he, too, made a somewhat similar motion.

He was not in favor, it is true, of referring the instrument for adoption to a General Convention of the whole people, alone, but he was in favor of referring it to such a Convention, in connection with Conventions to be called by the States, thus securing a joint or double ratification, by the people of the United States in the aggregate, and by the States; the effect of which would have been to make the new government a still more complex affair, and to muddle still further the brains of Mr. Webster and Mr. Justice Story.

But this motion failed also, and the Constitution was referred to the States for adoption.

But now a new question arose, which was, whether the Constitution was to be "ordained and established" by the legislatures of the States, or by the people of the States in Convention.

All were agreed, as we have seen, that the instrument should be referred to the States. This had been settled; but there were differences of opinion as to how the States should act upon it.

Some were in favor of permitting each of the States to choose, for itself, how it would ratify it; others were in favor of referring it to the legislatures, and others, again, to the people of the States in Convention.

It was finally decided that it should be referred to Conventions of the people, in the different States.

This being done, their work was completed, and it only remained to refer the rough draft of the instrument to the "Committee on Style," to prune and polish it a little -- to lop off a word here, and change or add a word there, the better to conform the language to the sense, and to the proprieties of grammar and rhetoric.

The Preamble, as it stood, as one presented a difficulty.

All the thirteen States were named in it as adopting the instrument, but it had been provided, in the course of its deliberations by the Convention, that the new government should go into effect if nine States adopted it.

Who could tell which these nine States would be? It was plainly impossible to enumerate all the States -- for all of them might not adopt it -- or any particular number of them, as adopting the instrument.

Further, it having been determined, as we have seen, that the Constitution should be adopted by the people of the several States, as contra-distinguished from the legislatures of the States, the phraseology of the Preamble must be made to express this idea also.

To meet these two new demands upon the phraseology of the instrument, the Committee on Style adopted the expression, "We, the people of the United States," -- meaning, as every one must see, "We, the people of the several States united by this instrument."

And this is the foundation that the Northern advocates of a consolidated government build upon, when they declare that the people of the United States in the aggregate, as one nation, adopted the Constitution, and thus gave the fundamental law to the States, instead of the States giving it to the Federal Government.

It is well known that his phrase, "We, the people," &c., became a subject of discussion in the Virginia ratifying Convention.

Patrick Henry, with the prevision of a prophet, was, as we have seen, bitterly opposed to the adoption of the Constitution.

He was its enemy a l'outrance. Not having been a member of the Convention, of 1787, that framed the instrument, and being unacquainted with the circumstances above detailed, relative to the change which had been made in the phraseology of its Preamble, he attacked the Constitution on the very ground since assumed by Webster and Story, to wit: that the instrument itself proclaimed that it had been "ordained and established" by the people of the United States in the aggregate, instead of the people of the States.

Mr. Madison replied to Henry on this occasion.

Madison had been in the Convention, knew, of course, all about the change of phraseology in question, and this was his reply:

The parties to it [the Constitution] were the people, but not the people as composing one great society, but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties. If it were a consolidated government,

continued he,

the assent of a majority of the people would be sufficient to establish it. But it was to be binding on the people of a State only by their separate consent.

There was, of course, nothing more to be said, and the Virginia Convention adopted the Constitution.

Madison has been called the Father of the Constitution.

Next to him, Alexander Hamilton bore the most conspicuous part in procuring it to be adopted  by the people.

Hamilton, as is well known, did not believe much in republics; and least of all did he believe in federal republics.

His great object was to establish a consolidated republic, if we must have a republic as all. He labored zealously for this purpose, but failed.

The States, without an exception, were in favor of the federal form; and no one knew better than Hamilton the kind of government which had been established.

Now let us hear what Hamilton, an unwilling, but an honest witness, says on this subject.

Of the eighty-five articles in the "Federalist," Hamilton wrote no less than fifty.

Having failed to procure the establishment of a consolidated government, his next great object was, to procure the adoption by the States of the present Constitution, and to his task, accordingly, he now address his great intellect and powerful energies.

In turning over the pages of the "Federalist," we can scarcely go amiss in quoting Hamilton, to the point that the Constitution is a compact between the States, and not an emanation from the people of the United States in the aggregate.

Let us take up the final article, for instance, the 85th. In this article we find the following expressions:

The compacts which are to embrace thirteen distinct States in a common bond of amity and Union, must necessarily be compromises of as many dissimilar interests and inclinations." Again: "The moment an alteration is made in the present plan, it becomes, to the purpose of adoption, a new one, and must undergo a new decision of each State. To its complete establishment throughout the Union, it will therefore, require the concurrence of thirteen States.

And again:

Every Constitution for the Untied States must, inevitably, consist of a great variety of particulars, in which thirteen Independent States are to be accommodated in their interests, or opinions of interests. * * * Hence the necessity of molding and arranging all the particulars which are to compose the whole in such a manner as to satisfy all the parties to the compact.

Thus, we do not hear Hamilton, any more than Madison, talking of a "people of the United States in the aggregate" as having anything to do with the formation of the new charter of government. He speaks only of States, and of compacts made or to be made by States.

In view of the great importance of the question, whether it was the people of the United States in the aggregate who "ordained and established" the Constitution, or the States, -- for this, indeed, is the whole gist of the controversy between the North and the South, -- I have dealt somewhat at length on the subject, and had recourse to contemporaneous history; but this was scarcely necessary.

The Constitution itself settled the whole controversy.

The 7th article of that instrument reads as follows: "The ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient  for the establishment of the Constitution between the States so ratifying the same."

How is it possible to reconcile this short, explicit, and unambiguous provision with the theory I am combating?

The Preamble, as explained by the Northern consolidationists, and this article, cannot possibly stand together. It is not possible that the people of the United States in the aggregate, as one nation, "ordained and established" the Constitution, and that the States ordained and established it at the same time: for there was but one set of Conventions called, and these Conventions were called by the States, and acted in the names of the States.

Mr. Madison did, indeed, endeavor to have the ratification made in both modes, but this motion in the Convention to his effect failed, as we have seen.

Further, how would the Constitution be biding only between the States that ratified it, if it was not ratified -- that is, not "ordained and established" -- by them at all, but by the people of the United States in the aggregate?

As remarked by Mr. Madison, in the Virginia Convention, a ratification by the people, in the sense in which this term is used by the Northern  consolidationists, would have bound all the people, and there would have been no option left the dissenting States.

But the 7th article says that they shall have an option, and that the instrument is to be binding only between such of them as ratify it.

With all due deference, then, to others who have written upon this vexed question, and who have differed from me in opinion, I must insist that the proof is conclusive that the Constitution is a compact between the States; and this being so, we have the admission of both Mr. Webster and Justice Story that any one of the States may withdraw from it at pleasure.

Marker at grave of Adm. Semmes and his wife.
Marker at grave of Adm. Semmes and his wife.

Propaganda In History by Lyon Gardiner Tyler

Propaganda In History.

by Lyon Gardiner Tyler

Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935) was the fourth son of our 10th United States president, John Tyler, who was president from 1841 to 1845 and later a member of the Confederate Congress. Lyon Gardiner Tyler had a distinguished career as an educator, genealogist and historian. He was the 17th president of the College of William and Mary and served from 1888 to 1919. Today's history department at William and Mary is named after him: The Lyon Gardiner Tyler Department of History. He founded the William and Mary Quarterly, a highly respected history journal, and is author of the books Parties and Patronage in the United States; The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River; England in America; Williamsburg, the Old Colonial Capital; Men of Mark in Virginia; Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography; History of Virginia from 1763 to 1861; and his most prominent work, The Letters and Times of the Tylers. He also wrote scores of articles, addresses and booklets including A Confederate Catechism. He was a prominent critic of Abraham Lincoln and wrote several important pieces challenging Lincoln including this one, "Propaganda in History.", which was published by the Richmond Press, Incorporated, printers, in 1920 (original from Princeton University). NOTE: The spelling and punctuation are verbatim from the original article.

DURING THE WORLD WAR we heard a great deal of propaganda, and the word was used generally in a bad sense. But there is really nothing harmful in the word itself. It signifies only a means of publicity, which, when applied properly and legitimately serves a very good purpose. The Germans applied it improperly. They sent to this country millions of dollars to buy up newspapers and newspaper men to abuse the allies and make palatable their own conduct, too often brutal in the extreme. Propaganda is a form of advertisement, and it is only when advertisements are resorted to for the purpose of spreading erroneous conceptions that they are to be condemned. Quack advertisements are at all time pernicious.

Dr. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, College of William and Mary, around 1915.
Dr. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, College of William and Mary, around 1915.

A feature especially popular in this country is propaganda applied to history. This consists in using striking characters and events of the past to give importance to present matters. As long as the truth is told much good must result, for the past contains vast archives of experience, from which valuable information may be had. The reverse happens when to give prominence to particular ends, historical matter is exploited at the expense of truth.

These thoughts are suggested by what is so often read in the newspapers and periodicals of the North and even in books which have a more serious character. By sheer dint of assertion, taken up and published as if by concerted arrangement, certain things are given a character that never did belong to them. The idea seems to be with many who are active in the matter that the real truth makes no difference provided the multitude can be got to accept a certain view. This is the very essence of German propagandism, so much feared and condemned during the World War. But this is not true of all, for there are some who appear to be swept along by a force which they are powerless to resist.

Let me cite some of the cases which have been made the subject of this kind of exploitation.

1 . There is a manifest disposition to place Plymouth before Jamestown. It is an old story and goes back a hundred and fifty years to the historian Hutchinson, who asserted in his history of Massachusetts that the Virginia colony had virtually failed and that the Pilgrim colony was the means of reviving it. How far from the truth Hutchison strayed in his statement is shown by Bradford’s contemporary narrative “The Plymouth Plantation," which proves very clearly that it was the successful establishment of the Virginia colony that induced the Puritans to leave Holland for America, in preference to some Dutch plantation like Guiana.

Sir Edwyn Sandys was the patron as well of the Puritan colony as of the Virginia colony. They sailed under a patent of the Virginia Company of London granted through his auspices, and when by miscalculation they landed outside of the dominion of the Virginia Company the compact adopted by them in the cabin of the Mayflower followed the terms of the original patent. It was, indeed, owing to the Jamestown Colony that landing was at all possible. Six years before, Sir Thomas Gates had sent Argall from Jamestown, who had driven the French from their settlements in Nova Scotia and on the coast of Maine, and thus prevented them from occupying the coast of Massachusetts as they were about to do.

Sir Edwin Sandys, one of the founders of the Virginia Company.
Sir Edwin Sandys, one of the founders of the Virginia Company.
Virginia Company coat of arms.
Virginia Company coat of arms.

So far from the truth was Hutchinson’s statement that in 1620 the Virginia colony had virtually failed, that even after the massacre of 1622 Virginia had over nine hundred colonists, and the Plymouth colony but one hundred and fifty, and these, according to Bradford, were in a starving condition from which they were rescued by a ship of Capt. John Huddleston, a member of the Virginia colony. In 1629 when the Plymouth colony had 300 inhabitants, the Jamestown colony had 3,000.

But recent writers do not even admit the reservation of Hutchinson of a prior though vanishing Jamestown. That ancient settlement, with all that it stands for, is actually to be snubbed out of recognition, and the claim is now boldly advanced that the Plymouth settlement was the first colony and all Americans the virtual output of that plantation. Jamestown is not to be allowed even a share in the upbuilding of America. Can anything be more astonishing, and where is the “New England conscience" that it does not revolt against this perversion of the truth?

Among the many recent instances of this historic prevarication which have fallen under my notice, reference may be made to the columns of the Saturday Evening Post for February 7, 1920, to the World's Work for November, 1919, and to Mr. James M. Beck's book, "The War and Humanity," published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1917. No plea of ignorance can be advanced for these writers, and, on the other hand, it is impossible to believe that they deliberately falsified. They come under the class of propaganda victims rather than propaganda sinners. They were swept on against their own better knowledge by the spirit of propagandism so deadly to the very existence of truth.

As to the first of these, the article in the Saturday Evening Post, the person who composed the editorial entitled "Sanctuary," uses the following words: "Two ships, the Mayflower and the Buford mark epochs in the history of America. The Mayflower brought the first of the builders to this country, the Buford has taken away the first destroyer."

Lyon Gardiner Tyler as a young man.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler as a young man.

We learn from the Richmond News Leader for March 1, 1920, that Mrs. Elizabeth Henry Lyons, the historian general of the National Society of the Colonial Dames in the State of Virginia, wrote a protest against this statement and received a reply virtually admitting that the editors knew differently when they made it. Their words were that in "a strict sense" Mrs. Lyons was "historically correct," but that "they did not believe in this narrow sense of our editorial is likely to be misleading even to school boys, who are thoroughly familiar with these dates in American history." The dates referred to were 1607, when the Susan Constant and her two companion ships brought the real founders of the nation to Jamestown, and 1620, when the Mayflower brought the Puritans to Plymouth in Massachusetts.

Replica of the Susan Constant, one of the three ships to first land in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.
Replica of the Susan Constant, one of the three ships to first land in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.
Coin with the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, Jamestown, 1607.
Coin with the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, Jamestown, 1607.

There is a hint here that in a broad sense the article in the paper was correct, but on this point the learned editors did not enlighten Mrs. Lyons. There is no broader word than error and not narrower word than truth. It is the Good Book which says: "Enter ye by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad the way that leadeth to destruction."

The plain truth is that neither in its origin nor in the institutions established in New England did the Plymouth Colony lay the foundations of the American Commonwealth. It was antedated by Jamestown and the Jamestown Assembly. The 41 signers of the Mayflower Compact did not form a democracy but an aristocracy and only cautiously admitted any newcomers into partnership with them. After twenty years less than forty per cent. of the people at Plymouth had any share in the government (Palfrey, New England, II, 8). And as the years rolled by the range of power became more and more restricted till it resembled the system prevailing in Massachusetts, into which Plymouth and its associated towns were eventually absorbed in 1691.

And how was it in Massachusetts, which set the example not only for Plymouth, but for all the other New England colonies, even Rhode Island in the end. To say that the government there from its inception was an aristocracy is putting it mild. It was a tyranny of the sternest type whose equal in history can scarcely be found anywhere.

American institutions of today are democratic, and are tested by the law of reason and nature. On the contrary, in New England the suffrage was confined during the seventeenth century to a few favored members of the Congregational Church, and everything was tested by the stern decrees of the Old Testament. In Massachusetts the law divided the people into "the better class," "those above the ordinary degree," and "those of mean condition." Though there were annual elections the magistrates had not difficulty in retaining office for life through the law of preference, which universally prevailed, and the town meetings were little oligarchies governed by the minister and a select clique.1 So the Rev. Mr. Stone aptly described Massachusetts of the seventeenth century "as a speaking aristocracy in the face of a silent democracy."

Lyon Gardiner Tyler around 1900.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler around 1900.

Though the Charter of King William, in 1691, introduced several very important reforms in Massachusetts, and his firm hand in suppressing tyranny in all the other New England colonies was strongly felt, the essential principles of the Puritan governments remained the same. To the very end of the colonial days the distinctions in society were observed with such punctilious nicety that the students at Harvard and Yale were arranged according to the dignity of their birth and rank, and the ballot was very limited. Weeden in his Social and Economical History of New England sums up the character of the New England institutions in the words that "they were democratic in form, but aristocratic in the substance of the administration." By no stretch of the imagination," says Dr. Charles M. Andrews, Professor of History in Yale University, "can the political conditions on any of the New England colonies be called popular or democratic. Government was in the hands of a very few men." And even today some of the worst inequalities in elections prevail in the New England States.2

On the other hand, Virginia, where the first colony was planted, which afforded inspiration to all the rest, appealed from the first to the law of nature and of reason, which constitutes the very essence of the democratic principle. She had the first English institutions, as shown in the fist jury trial, the first popular elections, and the first representative body of law makers, and, before any Puritan foot had planted itself upon Plymouth Rock, courts for the administration of justice and for the recordation of deeds, mortgages and wills, were established facts. Instead of resting on church membership as in Massachusetts, the House of Burgesses, which was the great controlling body in Virginia, rested for more than a hundred years upon universal suffrage. There was, it is true, an apparent change in 1670 when the possession of a freehold was made the condition of voting, but it was not a real change, since the law did not define the extent of the freehold until as late as 1736; and even under the law of 1736, as shown by Dr. J. F. Jameson,3 many more people voted in Virginia down to the American Revolution than did in Massachusetts. There was a splendid and spectacular body of aristocrats in colonial Virginia, but they did not have anything like the political power and prestige of the New England preachers and magistrates.

That popular institutions were a dominating feature in Virginia is the evidence of Alexander Spotswood, who writing, in 1713, declared4 that the Assembly which met that year was  composed of representatives of the plain people; of Governor Robert Dinwiddie, who, in 1754, complained5 of the House of Burgesses for their "constant encroachment on the prerogatives of the Crown" and "their Republican ways of thinking;" of Rev. Andrew Burnaby, an English traveler, who, in 1759, wrote of the public or political character of the Virginians, as haughty and impatient of restraint, and "scarcely able to bear the thought of being controlled by any superior power;" of Col. Landon Carter, of "Sabine Hall, "who attributed6 his own defeat, in 1765, to his unpopularity with the common voters, who were jealous of any aristocratic pretentions; of J. F. D. Smythe, another British traveler before the American Revolution, who spoke of the haughtiness of the great middle class, who comprised half of the population; of Edmund Randolph, who referring to the same period described7 the aristocracy of Virginia as "little and feeble, and incapable of daring to assert any privilege clashing with the rights of the people at large;" of Colonel St. George Tucker, who denied8 that there was such a thing as "dependence of classes" in Virginia, and declared that the aristocracy of Virginia was as "harmless a set of men as ever existed;" and finally Thomas Jefferson, who, in 1814, writing9 to John Adams, while referring to the traditionary reverence paid to certain families in Massachusetts and Connecticut, "which had rendered the offices of those governments nearly hereditary in those families," derided the power of the aristocracy in Virginia both before and after the Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States.

If, indeed, there was any doubt where popular institutions had the stronger hold, the doubt is removed when we notice what happened when the two communities for "the first time had the opportunity of directing without foreign restraint, the government of their own country. Soon after independence was secured, Virginia became the headquarters of the Democratic-Republican Party--the party of popular ideas--and New England became the headquarters of the Federalist Party--the party of aristocratic ideas. Real democracy was brought to New England for the first time in 1804, when Thomas Jefferson carried all the New England States but Connecticut. It was not fully accepted till 1816 when the Federalist Party passed finally out of existence.

In the work of making a constitution for the new government and or organizing it, Virginia, as John Fiske says, furnished "four out of the five constructive statesmen engaged"--Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Marshall. Not one of them was of Puritan stock. The fifth was Alexander Hamilton, a native of the West Indies and a New Yorker by adoption. In the matter of extending our territories it was the cavalier, George Rogers Clark, that conquered the Northwest Territory, now represented by five great States. And Louisiana, Florida, Texas, California, New Mexico and all the West were added to the Union by Virginian and Southern Presidents, thus trebling the area of the Republic and making it a continental power. Had the Puritan influence, which opposed these annexations of territory, prevailed, the United States would be confined to-day to a narrow strip along the Atlantic Coast.

As a matter of fact, the rightful name of the Republic is the historic name of Virginia (first given by the greatest of English queens and accepted by the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower compact). "United States of America," are merely words of description. They are not a name.

Now as to the writer in the World's Work. This is no less a person than William Snowden Sims, an admiral in the United States Navy. In an article, entitled "The Return of the Mayflower," he describes how Great Britain welcomed our navy at the outset of our participation in the war with a moving picture film which depicted how in 1620 a few Englishmen had landed in North America and laid the foundations of a new state, based on English conceptions of justice and liberty, how out of the disjointed colonies they had founded one of the mightiest nations of history, and how when the liberties of mankind were endangered, the descendants of the "old Mayflower pioneers" had in their turn crossed the ocean--this time going eastward to fight for the traditions of the race. Admiral Sims makes this comment: "The whole story appealed to the British masses as one of the great miracles of history--a single miserable little settlement in Massachusetts Bay expanding into the continent overflowing with resources and wealth--a shipload of men, women and children developing in three centuries into a nation of more than 100,000,000 people. And the arrival of our destroyers, pictured on the film, informed the British people that all this youth and energy had been thrown upon their side of the battle."

Not a hint of Jamestown, not a word of tribute to the men, who, in the early days before Plymouth Rock, laid down their lives by thousands that this great continent might be saved from French and Spanish dominion and Plymouth itself might exist.

Nothing more aptly describes the effect of this propagandist program than its acceptance and exploitation in England through the moving picture film described by Admiral Sims. The English managers cared nothing between Jamestown and Plymouth, but were bent from their natural regard for truth, by the wish to please the present dominant influence  in America, which they correctly located northward.

Finally, as to Mr. Beck, in his book, entitled "The War and Humanity," which Theodore Roosevelt endorsed with a "Foreword," no one can doubt that he knew better when he wrote the words which follow. They were part of an address delivered by him in 1916 at a luncheon, given to him in London by the Pilgrim Society of that city, when Viscount Brice and other eminent Englishmen were present. And yet he must not be judged too harshly. Like Admiral Sims, he was the helpless victim of propaganda. Mr. Beck said:

Never was a nation more dominated by a tradition than the United States by the tradition of its political isolation. It has its root in the very beginning of the American Commonwealth. In nine generations no political party and a few public men had ever questioned its continued efficacy. The pioneers who came in 1620 across the Atlantic to Plymouth Rock and founded the American Commonwealth desired like the intrepid Kent in King Lear 'to shape their old course in a country new,' so that the spirit of detachment from Europe was emplanted in the very souls of the pioneers who conquered the virgin forests of America.

Mark what Mr. beck said: "The pioneers who came in 1620 across the Atlantic to Plymouth Rock and founded the American Commonwealth." Not a word of the men who came in the Sarah Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, and prepared the way at Jamestown for all future colonization of America.

2. The second myth which has been extensively circulated is that the Plymouth settlers came to America for religious freedom. As a matter of fact, they left England for Holland because they were persecuted, and they left Holland for America, not because they were persecuted by the Dutch, but, as Bradford narrates, because they were in danger of being absorbed in the body of the Dutch nation by natural causes. Charles M. Andrews, in a recent work, declares that with the single exception of giving to New England the congregational form of worship, these humble and simple settlers were "without importance in the world of thought, literature or education."

The settlers who came with John Winthrop in 1630 were the real builders of Massachusetts, which for a century and a half was the enemy of free thought. The persecuted in England turned persecutors in America, and the colonial disputes with England turned upon the religious and political tyranny which the Puritans erected in New England. Far from religious convictions being the only driving force that sent hundreds of men to New England, hardly a fifth of the people in Massachusetts were professed Christians; and yet it was this fifth that had the power and taxed and persecuted all the rest. The liberty they wanted from England was the liberty to harass the majority of the population which did not agree with them. Seen at this distance of time England showed a marvel of patience in dealing with the people of Massachusetts in the 17th century. And yet there is not an instance of severity which has not had its respectable defenders, and Charles Francis Adams, Jr., in his "Massachusetts--Its Historians and Its History," takes notice of how these apologists have in their histories "struggled" and "squirmed" and "shuffled" in the face of the record.

John Winthrop, English Puritan lawyer, led colonizers to Mass. Bay Colony in 1630.
John Winthrop, English Puritan lawyer, led colonizers to Mass. Bay Colony in 1630.

3. The third myth of which I shall take notice is one strangely endorsed by Charles Francis Adams himself in the same book. He makes the remarkable statement that the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, written by his great-grandfather, John Adams, first fixed the principles of the American written constitution, and pioneered the way to the Federal Constitution of eight years later. This assertion has been taken up and repeated by many persons since, till it is becoming rapidly accepted as a fact by the writing and reading public of the North. As in the case of Jamestown, George Mason and the Virginia Constitution of 1776 are ignored and made to suffer from a propaganda of untruth.

4. Not to mention numerous other subjects of propagandism, there is the Lincoln myth. Hardly a single paper published north of Mason and Dixon's line can be taken up without the reader seeing something about this wonderful hero of the North. We all know that the North started out with making a hero of John Brown, but abandoned him for the much more desirable character of Mr. Lincoln. His assassination gave propagandists a good starting point, and since then never has propaganda been more active. Washington is even relegated to the background, and a highly worthy and eminent historian, Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart, calls Lincoln "The First American." The ideality given him is chiefly based upon a great fabrication sedulously taught and inculcated that Lincoln fought the South for the abolition of slavery of the negroes. This was denied to the very last by Lincoln himself, but is exploited in the recently published play of Mr. Drinkwater, an Englishman, as it has been by hundreds of other writers.

The mischievousness of this Lincoln propaganda idea was exhibited recently to the full by Rev. Charles Francis Potter, pastor of the Lenox Avenue Unitarian Church, New York, in an address delivered on March 7, 1920, at Earl Hall, Columbia University, and reported in the "Sun and New York Herald." This gentleman characterizes Lincoln as the "future social Christ" of America, and prophesied the coming of an "American Church" and an "American Bible," in which people "will find in parallel columns the stories of Christ and of Lincoln."

Absurd and blasphemous as this hysterical prophecy may appear to some, it may, nevertheless, come true. What the Roman Senate achieved by decree in the case of their emperors, may in this day be more certainly accomplished by money and propaganda. When the most elemental facts in the history of the United States are snubbed and ignored, as in the case of Jamestown, it is not at all surprising that the character of Lincoln is so represented by the Northern press that the true Lincoln is no longer recognizable. Everything in any way tending to lessen his importance is studiously kept in the background.

The writer certainly has no wish to detract from Lincoln's real merits. That he was a man of ability and originality can scarcely be questioned, but his intellectuality was not of that degree to place him in the same class with Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Marshall, Madison, Calhoun, Clay and Webster. These men attracted the public attention from their early manhood, and profoundly influenced the country throughout their lives. But Lincoln was practically an unknown factor till his nomination as President in 1860, and his influence was confined to the four years of the war. There can be no doubt that his assassination was a fortunate thing for his fame.

Nor does Lincoln appear naturally as venomous as many of his party. It is doubtless true that he would have preferred mild measures instead of severe ones. But this is an much as can be said, and to accomplish success he had no compunction or scruples whatever.

Let us consider the claims of Lincoln to the ideal character in history which has been imputed to him.

It is impossible to associate idealism with coarseness, and Lincoln, judged by every test of historic evidence, was a very coarse man. There is no reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of his friend and admirer, Ward H. Lamon, who declared that "in his tendency to tell stories of the grosser sort, Lincoln was restrained by no presence and no occasion." Herndon, who was his law partner, says that "he loved a story, however extravagant or vulgar, if it had a good point," and Don Piatt declares that he managed to live through the cares and responsibilities of the war only by reason of his coarse mold. After his election Piatt saw much of Lincoln, who told stories, "no one of which will bear printing," and Hugh McCulloch tells of "the very funny stories" of Mr. Lincoln during the war, after hearing of Sheridan's victory in the Valley of Virginia--stories, he says, "which would not be listened to with pleasure by very refined ears." And General McClellan said "his stories were seldom refined."

Indeed, what kind of an ideal man is he who could open a Cabinet meeting called to discuss the Emancipation  proclamation with reading foolish things from Artemus Ward, and, when visiting the field of Sharpsburg, freshly soaked with the blood of thousands of brave men, could call for the singing of a ribald song?10

Artemus Ward, nom de plume of Charles Farrar Browne, humor writer, comedian.
Artemus Ward, nom de plume of Charles Farrar Browne, humor writer, comedian.

Certainly it would never do to put Lincoln's letter11 to Mrs. Browning on the subject of marriage in a column parallel with the stories of Christ. Its grotesque humor, its coarse suggestions and its base insinuations against the virtue of a lady to whom he had proposed and by whom he had been rejected, are shocking enough without subjecting it to such a test.

Mr. Lincoln's kindness in individual cases and professions of charity in his messages, which have been greatly exploited, by no means prove that he had any exalted sense of humanity. The recognized expression of humanity among nations is the international law, and Lincoln and his government acted repeatedly contrary to it.

How stands history in regard to the claim of humanity? Here is the testimony of the late Charles Francis Adams, a Federal Brigadier General, and President of the Massachusetts Historical Society:

Our own methods during the last stages of the war was sufficiently described by General Sheridan, when during the Franco-Prussian war, as the guest of Bismarck, he declared against humanity in warfare, contending that the correct policy was to treat a hostile population with the utmost rigor, leaving them, as he expressed it, 'Nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.'

The doctrine that there must be no humanity in warfare proclaimed by Sheridan was also voiced by Sherman in his letter to General Grant March 9, 1864:

Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless for us to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources. . . . I can make the march and make Georgia howl.

General Halleck wanted the site of Charleston, thick with the heroic memories of the Revolution, sowed with salt, and General Grant, in his letters to General David Hunter and General Sheridan, issued orders to make the beautiful Valley of Virginia "a barren waste." Nothing need be said of the ferocious spirit of the lesser tribe of Federal commanders.

And Lincoln, in spite of the fine catchy sentiment of his Gettysburg speech, gave his sanction to the same policy when he said in response to a protest against his employment of negro troops: "No human power can subdue this rebellion without the use of the emancipation policy and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion."

Secretary Chase, in his diary, shows that on July 21, 1862, in a Cabinet meeting the President expressed himself as "averse to arming the negroes," but shortly after, on August 3, 1862, the President said on the same question that "he was pretty well cured of any objections to any measure except want of adaptedness to putting down the Rebellion." To the spoliators Hunter, Sheridan and Sherman, he wrote his enthusiastic commendations and not a word of censure.

By an act of Congress, approved July 17, 1862, and published with an approving proclamation by Lincoln, death, imprisonment or confiscation of property were denounced on five million white people in the South and all their abettors and aiders in the North. To reduce the South into submission Lincoln instituted on his own motion a blockade, a means of war so extreme that despite its legality under the International Law, it evoked from the Germans the most savage retaliation when applied to them. He threatened with hanging as pirates Southern privateersmen and as guerillas regularly commissioned partisans. He suspended the cartel of exchange, and when the Federal prisoners necessarily fared badly for lack of food on account of the blockade and the universal devastations, he retorted their sufferings upon the Confederate prisoners--thousands of whom perished of cold and starvation in the midst of plenty. Indeed, he refused to see or hear a committee of Federal prisoners permitted by Mr. Davis to visit Washington in the interest of the suffering prisoners at Andersonville.

Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister, denounced in Parliament Butler's order against the women of New Orleans as "too indecent to be put in the English language," but Lincoln neither had it rescinded nor rebuked the author of it.12 And such was his idea of popular government that he gave permission to the tenth part of the people of a rebellious State to form a government for the State. Indeed, private relief which even the Germans allowed in the late war to prisoners, was not always permitted by the Northern authorities in the War for Southern Independence. A notable instance of refusal was afforded in December, 1864, when certain ladies of England asked permission to distribute $85,000 among the Confederate prisoners. Mr. Charles Francis Adams, the United States Minister, became humanely the medium of their request, but Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, made refusal in terms as insulting almost to Mr. Adams as to the charitable ladies concerned. Lincoln had a fine opportunity in this case to show that he meant what he said of "charity" in one of his messages, but he did not interfere.

Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, Prime Mins. of UK, 1857.
Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, Prime Mins. of UK, 1857.

Medicines were made contraband, and to justify the seizure of neutral goods at sea a great enlargement of the principle of the "ultimate destination" was introduced into the International Law. The property of non-combatants was seized everywhere without compensation, and within the area embraced by the Union lines, the oath of allegiance was required of both sexes above sixteen years of age under penalty of being driven from their homes. Houses, barns, villages and towns were destroyed in the South; and in the North, by the authority of the President, thirty-eight thousands persons are said to have been arrested and confined as prisoners without trial or formal charge. Even the act for which Lincoln has been most applauded in recent days--his emancipation proclamation--stands on no really humanitarian ground.

He declared to a committee of clergymen from Chicago that in issuing his emancipation proclamation he would look only to its effect as a war measure, independent of its "legal" or "constitutional" character or of "its moral nature in view of the possible consequences of insurrection or massacre in the Southern States." This declaration, which involved directly the admission that, if he were once convinced that emancipation would contribute to ending the war, he would proclaim it regardless of massacre, is not exactly such as would recommend him as a champion of humanity to the Southern people. Massacre of women and children is a dreadful thing.

When we come to examine Lincoln's statecraft, it appears to indicate a lack of decision utterly at variance with the inordinate estimate placed upon his abilities by modern propagandists.13 These people never tire of blaming Mr. Buchanan for not at once using force to suppress the "rebellion," and yet have not a word of censure against Lincoln for allowing a whole month to pass without taking any action. That he declared in his inaugural address that he intended to hold the forts and public property was no more than what Mr. Buchanan had also said, and this declaration was subject to developments. Even James Schouler, in his history, states that "so reticent, indeed, of his plans had been the new President, while sifting opinions through the month, that it seemed as though he had no policy, but was waiting for his Cabinet to frame one for him." Is this the kind of appearance that a President who is expected to lead in matters should assume before the nation?

After the meeting of the Cabinet on March 15, 1861, in which five of the members opposed action, Lincoln's mind more and more tended to the same conclusion. It is idle to say, as many of his panegyrists do, that Lincoln had no knowledge of Seward's assurances to Judge Campbell that the troops would be withdrawn from Fort Sumter. Mr. Schouler is an admirer, but he cannot agree with this view and asks very pertinently why if this was the case, Lincoln should have agreed to give notice of a contrary action.

It appears, indeed, that the policy of giving up Fort Sumter went to the extent of the preparation of an editorial for a New York paper to defend Lincoln,--a copy of which was furnished Gov. Francis Pickens, of South Carolina, "by one very near the most intimate counsels of the President of the United States."14 But after signing an order for withdrawing the troops, Lincoln reconsidered when the governors of seven of the Northern States, which were under control of the tariff interests, assembled in Washington about the first of April, 1861, and protested against it.

That the final determination turned on the tariff question is not surprising when one considers the obstinacy of the North in adhering to protection in 1833. Only a miracle saved the country at that time from war. On March 16, 1861, Stanton, who had been a member of Buchanan's Cabinet, wrote to the ex-President that "the Republicans are beginning to think that a monstrous blunder was made in the tariff bill (the Morrill tariff included ranges from 50 to 80 per cent.), that it will cut off the trade of New York, build up New Orleans and the Southern ports and leave the government no revenue." There was a Confederate tariff of from ten to twenty per cent., and Lincoln's fears of it were ultimately excited.

So on April 1, Seward materially changed his attitude by placing in Judge Campbell's hands a written memorandum to the effect that the President might desire to supply Fort Sumter, but would not do so without giving notice. On April 4 Lincoln had an interview with Col. John B. Baldwin, who came from the Virginia Convention, and in response to an appeal told him he had come too late, and asked "what would become of his tariff if he allowed those men at Montgomery to open Charleston as a port of entry with their ten per cent. tariff?"15 That day Lincoln drafted instructions to Major Anderson at Fort Sumter that relief would be sent, and ordered him to hold the fort. Notice was given to Gov. Pickens of South Carolina, but it reached him only as the first part of the relief squadron was leaving New York. This scarcely deserved the ascription of a reasonable or honorable notice.16

The same sort of uncertainty and vacillation hedged about Lincoln's action on Emancipation. He suppressed several measures looking to that end by his generals, and on Sept. 13, 1862, declared that Emancipation was absolutely futile and likened the policy to "the Pope's bull against the comet." He asked: "Would my word free the slaves when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the Rebel States? Is there a single court or magistrate or individual who would be influenced by it there?"17 And yet on September 23, he decided to do what he had refused to do ten days before. The only circumstance which had happened in the interval was the battle of Sharpsburg, but this certainly did not affect the substance of the objections which he had urged on Sept. 13. No court, nor magistrate, nor individual in the South was by that battle put in better mind as to the question. In the North the effect of the proclamation, according to Lincoln himself, "looked soberly in the face is not very satisfactory." The Republicans were defeated in the elections which followed, and Mr. Rhodes, the historian, writes that "no one can doubt that it (the proclamation of emancipation) was a contributing force." It is difficult to understand what single fact places Lincoln's action on a higher plane than that of Lord Dunmore during the American Revolution.

Nevertheless, the propagandists have been successful in disseminating the idea that Lincoln was the great emancipator and that all his shuffling and equivocation was the fine evidence of consummate leadership on his part.

The propagandist has in similar manner smoothed away all exceptions affecting the relations of President Lincoln to his Cabinet. And yet such exceptions existed, if any confidence is to be placed in Charles Francis Adams, Sr., who in his "Memorial Address" on Seward represents him as practically subordinate to his Secretary of State. And while Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, repels the charge and claims that the President was the dominating mind, his narrative of the incredible liberties taken by Seward, and the President's indifference to them, till roused by others to a proper sense of his dignity, does not redound much to Lincoln's credit. Welles complains much of the assumptions of Seward, but doubtless forgot his own action in the Trent Affair, when he publicly approved the conduct of Wilkes, subsequently disavowed by Lincoln. If, indeed, Lincoln did not, on the side, give Welles permission to act as he did, which is very probable, what was this approval but officiousness on Welles' part meriting signal rebuke? And if Welles did write with Lincoln's permission, what was Lincoln's final action in apologizing to Great Britain, but a species of camouflage unworthy a President of the United States.

This deference, if not submission to his secretaries, is said by others to have been even more manifested by Lincoln with Stanton, his Secretary of War, than with Seward, his Secretary of State. John C. Ropes declares that Lincoln and Stanton constantly interfered with military plans greatly to the detriment of military success, and the history of the Virginia campaigns is a history of official blunders in the appointment by Lincoln of incompetent generals. Charles Francis Adams, Sr., declares in the same "Memorial Address" on Seward that Lincoln was "quite deficient in his acquaintance with the character and qualities of public men or their aptitude for the positions to which he assigned them. Indeed he never selected them solely by that standard." Welles, in his rejoinder, does not deny that such appointments were made, but retorts only by saying they occurred chiefly on the recommendation of Mr. Seward "who was vigilant and tenacious in dispensing the patronage of the State Department." This does not help the case. The very point against Lincoln is that he did not exert his own individuality sufficiently against a lot of impudent secretaries. It is impossible to supposed that any other man, in the whole list of Presidents, would have rested under such vassalage.

Lincoln's weakness of character is aptly illustrated by his course at other times. He never could rise above the idea that the South was fighting for slavery, and though the South resented the suggestion as an insult he more than once proposed to his Cabinet to pay the South for their slaves, if they would return to the Union. But his Cabinet, for quite different reasons, resisted the project, and Lincoln submitted. Indeed, his very last act showed how incapable he was of withstanding the influence of men of superior power like Stanton. On his visit to Richmond, after the evacuation in April, 1865, he authorized the Virginia Legislature to be called together, and yet he had hardly returned to Washington when, succumbing to the vehement protests of Stanton, as Stanton himself says, he recalled the permission, excusing himself on grounds which are plainly matter of afterthought.18

Much important detail is furnished by Dr. Clifton B. Hall towards enabling us to judge of Lincoln's character in his recent life of "Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee." The object of the appointment was the restoration of Tennessee to the Union, but Lincoln, despite his professions of "charity," instead of selecting a cool, conservative person for the position, took Andrew Johnson--a man whom Dr. Hall describes as one of the most venomous and hated men in Tennessee. He not only took him, but stood by him, and condoned all his violence, which got him into fierce quarrels with all the Federal generals at any time in Tennessee. That Andrew Johnson was in large degree a demagogue, as Dr. Hall states, is undoubtedly true, and yet he had certain qualities, which exhibited under other conditions, command our admiration and esteem. No one can tell how far Lincoln would have allowed the radicals to go after the war in their reconstruction of the South. His action referred to in regard to the Virginia Legislature is not particularly encouraging, but Johnson's conduct is a matter of history. However violent he was, while the war was going on, and for a year later, he proved himself incapable of the meanness of continuing to persecute a defenseless and conquered people; and asserting his authority as President, as any self-respecting man would have done, he turned the truculent Stanton out of office, thereby risking expulsion from his own high position at the hands of a crazy and malignant Congress.

In prosecuting the war Lincoln appealed to a great idea--the Union--which he declared was his sole idea in prosecuting the war, but the old Union was founded on consent and the Union he had in mind was one of force. His war, therefore, was contrary to the principles of self-government expressed in the Declaration of Independence and to the modern principle of self-determination, now the accepted doctrine of the world--a doctrine not only endorsed by the present President of the United States, but by both houses of Congress. In recent years, we have seen Norway and Sweden separate in peace, and much of Europe was reconstructed on new national lines.

The truth is, there never was a war more inconsistent in principle than that waged against the Southern States in 1861. Besides the great territory which it occupied the Southern Government placed in the field armies as vast as Napoleon's, and for four years waged a war on equal terms with the great and populous North, aided by recruits from Europe and enlistments from the South's own population. Indeed, we have Lincoln's own statement that without the aid of the Southern negro troops he would have had "to abandon the war in three weeks."19 As a matter of fact the old Union consisted from the first of two nations which had been brought together by British taxation, and the South's fight for independence was only in obedience to the logic of the real facts.

The present Southerners are glad to be free of slavery and are loyal citizens of the Union, but this is far from saying that they approve the violent methods by which slavery was abolished and the Union restored.

In conclusion of this article on propaganda, I may cite a few sentences from Robert Quillen in the Saturday Evening Post for January 24, 1920, which the editors might have taken to heart when preparing their editorial about Plymouth Rock.

Since the purpose of propaganda is to present one side of a case, it is from its very inception a distortion of facts, and an avoidance of the whole truth. . . . Truth lies at the bottom of a well and we are poisoning the well. . . . Propaganda has made doubters of us all.

Was the divine Pocahontas after all correct, when in her interview with John Smith in England in 1616 she characterized the white race as hopeless liars?

The exact language of Pocahontas was: "Your countrymen will lie much."

Tyler Mem. Garden at Wm. and Mary, tribute to Lyon Gardiner Tyler, his father and grandfather.
Tyler Mem. Garden at Wm. and Mary, tribute to Lyon Gardiner Tyler, his father and grandfather.


1 For the working of the ballot in New England, see Baldwin in American Historical Papers, IV, p. 81.

2 Jones, The Rotten Boroughs of New England in North American Review, CXCVII, p. 486.

3 New York, Nation, April 27, 1893.

4 Letters of Alexander Spotswood, II, p.1.

5 The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, I, p. 100.

6 William and Mary Quarterly, XVI, 259.

7 Henry, Patrick Henry, I, 209.

8 William and Mary College Quarterly, XXII, 252.

9 Ibid., XXIII, 227.

10 Don Piatt in Rice, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, p. 486; George Edmunds (Mrs. Minor Meriwether), Facts and Falsehoods, 73-90.

11 Lamon, Life of LIncoln, 1872, p. 181. Nicolay and Hay, Letters and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln, I, 17-19.

12 This order was directed against any "gesture" of a woman expressive of contempt of a Federal soldier, but in the American Revolution the women of Boston appear to have regarded spitting at the British prisoners taken at Saratoga as patriotic. (See Lady Riedesel's Journal.)

13 Publisher's Note: Modern propagandists include everybody who is politically correct, which include most of academia, nearly all of the news media, and most of those on the political left. The politicization of history by academia since the 1960s has mostly changed history, as a serious, important discipline, from a search for truth, to just another leftist political position. Like Orwell said, whoever controls the past, controls the future; and who controls the present, controls the past.

14 Francis Pickens' Letter in William and Mary College Quarterly, XXIV, 78-84.

15 Gordon, Life of Jefferson Davis, 124.

16 See "Lincoln and Fort Sumter," in Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, II, 211-214.

17 Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, VIII, 30, 31.

18 Conner, Life of John A. Campbell, 174-198.

19 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, X, 190.