Special to the Cape Charles Mirror by Paul Plante
Some realizations are slow to come, it seems, no matter how wide awake one might feel they are, and such it was for me, when only recently, I came to the realization that the white people in this country who live in the former Confederate states are a vanquished people, not really American citizens like the rest of us white people who don’t live in the former Confederate states, and thus, are full American citizens with the same rights and privileges, supposedly, anyway, that other Americans who aren’t white have, and I say supposedly, because the self-professed “Latina” Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court justice, God help the Republic, made it incandescently clear to me personally, while she was a circuit judge on the federal 2d circuit court of appeals in New York City, that as a white person, I didn’t mean **** to her, and as a result, I have no due process of equal protection guarantees such as I would have if I were a person of color.
Such it is and so it goes, she has the power, and I clearly don’t.
But that the white people of the south are even farther down that ladder than I am was made clear to me a bit ago by an e-mail from a person we shall call a “Northern Liberal,” for such is this person’s self-identification, that read as follows:
“I’ve been searching my memory for an instance where the losers of a war, here the one on our United States to protect and advance slavery, go about putting up monuments and waving their flag.”
Talk about having your consciousness raised, people, there it is right before us in black and white in those two words “They lost,” which means that today, the white people of the south who happen to live in the Confederate states are a permanently vanquished people who are to be looked down on by the rest of the people in America who aren’t in the Confederate states.
But is any of what this “Northern Liberal” is saying in any way true, or more to the point, factual?
For another more contemporaneous viewpoint, let’s drop back to 1866, when the Civil War, or War Between the States, had just ended, and our guide to those times will be a person named Oreste Brownson who did an extensive analysis of those times in a series of essays entitled “The American Republic,” which should be required reading for Northern Liberals like this one, but won’t be, because it is too long and therefore for them, too hard to read and assimilate, and besides, they already have their minds made up, so why try to change them?
So what does Brownson have to say on the subject?
Let’s go see:
The (federal) government started with the theory that no State had seceded or could secede, and held that, throughout, the States in rebellion continued to be States in the Union.
That is, it held secession to be a purely personal and not a territorial insurrection.
Yet it proclaimed eleven States to be in insurrection against the United States, blockaded their ports, and interdicted all trade and intercourse of any kind with them.
The Supreme Court, in order to sustain the blockade and interdict as legal, decided the war to be not a war against simply individual or personal insurgents, but “a territorial civil war.”
This negatived the assumption that the States that took up arms against the United States remained all the while peaceable and loyal States, with all their political rights and powers in the Union.
So, there is some American history from someone who was actually alive back then, as opposed to this Northern Liberal above here, for us to consider, and perhaps this does lend some credence to his position that the white people alive today in the southern states that seceded aren’t really American citizens like the rest of us.
As to how America was viewed back then, Brownson continues as follows:
The States in the Union are integral elements of the political sovereignty, for the sovereignty of the American nation vests in the States united; and it is absurd to pretend that the eleven States that made the rebellion and were carrying on a formidable war against the United States, were in the Union, an integral element of that sovereign authority which was carrying on a yet more formidable war against them.
Nevertheless, the government still held to its first assumption, that the States in rebellion continued to be States in the Union â€” loyal States, with all their rights and franchises unimpaired!
To un-confuse you, let us read on:
That the government should at first have favored or acquiesced in the doctrine that no State had ceased to be a State in the Union, is not to be wondered at.
The extent and determination of the secession movement were imperfectly understood, and the belief among the supporters of the government, and, perhaps, of the government itself was, that it was a spasmodic movement for a temporary purpose, rather than a fixed determination to found an independent separate nationality; that it was and would be sustained by the real majority of the people of none of the States, with perhaps the exception of South Carolina; that the true policy of the government would be to treat the seceders with great forbearance, to avoid all measures likely to exasperate them or to embarrass their loyal fellow-citizens, to act simply on the defensive, and to leave the Union men in the several seceding States to gain a political victory at the polls over the secessionists, and to return their States to their normal position in the Union.
The government may not have had much faith in this policy, and Mr. Lincoln’s personal authority might be cited to the effect that it had not, but it was urged strongly by the Union men of the Border States.
The administration was hardly seated in office, and its members were new men, without administrative experience; the President, who had been legally elected indeed, but without a majority of the popular votes, was far from having the full confidence even of the party that elected him; opinions were divided; party spirit ran high; the excitement was great, the crisis was imminent, the government found itself left by its predecessor without an army or a navy, and almost without arms or ordnance; it knew not how far it could count on popular support, and was hardly aware whom it could trust or should distrust; all was hurry and confusion; and what could the government do but to gain time, keep off active war as long as possible, conciliate all it could, and take ground which at the time seemed likely to rally the largest number of the people to its support?
Ah, so it is not quite as simple as this Northern Liberal would have us believe, is it.
Brownson continues thusly:
There were men then, warm friends of the administration, and still warmer friends of their country, who believed that a bolder, a less timid, a less cautious policy would have been wiser; that in revolutionary times boldness, what in other times would be rashness, is the highest prudence, on the side of the government as well as on the side of the revolution; that when once it has shown itself, the rebellion that hesitates, deliberates, consults, is defeated â€” and so is the government.
The seceders owed from the first their successes not to their superior organization, to their better preparation, or to the better discipline and appointment of their armies, but to their very rashness, to their audacity even, and the hesitancy, caution, and deliberation of the government.
But the government believed it wisest to adopt a conciliatory, and, in many respects, a temporizing policy, and to rely more on weakening the secessionists in their respective States than on strengthening the hands and hearts of its own stanch and uncompromising supporters.
That paints quite a different picture of the situation back then, doesn’t it, than that painted by the Northern Liberal above here.
Back to Brownson, then:
It must strengthen the Union party in the insurrectionary States, and as this party hoped to succeed by political manipulation rather than by military force, the government must rely rather on a show of military power than on gaming any decisive battle.
As it hoped, or affected to hope, to suppress the rebellion in the States that seceded through their loyal citizens, it was obliged to assume that secession was the work of a faction, of a few ambitious and disappointed politicians, and that the States were all in the Union, and continued in the loyal portion of their inhabitants.
Hence its aid to the loyal Virginians to organize as the State of Virginia, and its subsequent efforts to organize the Union men in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, and its disposition to recognize their organization in each of those States as the State itself, though including only a small minority of the territorial people.
So, contrary to what this Northern Liberal is stating or implying when he says the Confederate states made war on the United States to “protect and advance slavery,” not every person in the south was disloyal to the United States, nor did every person in the south want to protect and advance slavery.
Brownson then continues as follows:
Had the facts been as assumed, the government might have treated the loyal people of each State as the State itself, without any gross usurpation of power; but, unhappily, the facts assumed were not facts, and it was soon found that the Union party in all the States that seceded, except the western part of Virginia and the eastern section of Tennessee, after secession had been carried by the popular vote, went almost unanimously with the secessionists; for they as well as the secessionists held the doctrine of State sovereignty; and to treat the handful of citizens that remained loyal in each State as the State itself, became ridiculous, and the government should have seen and acknowledged it.
Now, there, I submit, is a key and telling statement that I would not expect this Northern Liberal to grasp or understand – it was soon found that the Union party in all the States that seceded, except the western part of Virginia and the eastern section of Tennessee, after secession had been carried by the popular vote, went almost unanimously with the secessionists; for they as well as the secessionists held the doctrine of State sovereignty!
That would seem to blow this Northern Liberal’s argument that the Confederacy made war on the United States to “protect and advance slavery,” but being close-minded as I know him to be, I am quite sure that to preserve his argument that the people of the south are a vanquished people who should not have the right to erect any statues or memorials to their war dead, he would simply disregard Brownson as being uninformed, and therefore wrong.
But how about you, people of the south?
Did Brownson get it wrong?
Does the Northern Liberal have it right?
The candid world, which watches this on-going political drama involving these Confederate memorials, would truly like to know.