Monday, April 9, 2018
REDISCOVERING AMERICANISM, AND THE TYRANNY OF PROGRESSIVISM
(New York, etc.: Threshold Editions, c2017)
By MARK R. LEVIN
Rev. by Hugh Murray
For the past two years I have been listening to Mark Levin on his radio program, and though I differ with his commentary occasionally, generally I am impressed by his research on current affairs and his knowledge of the law. On a visit to my public library recently, I saw one of his books on display and borrowed it.
Though Levin makes a strong argument in Rediscovering Americanism that “America's founding principles are eternal principles,”(233), I came to the end of the book feeling deceived, that Levin, in order to construct for his book an easy case, avoided some major contentious issues.
One of the eternal truths Levin cites throughout his book is - the simple, stirring words at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, words meant to justify the colonial rebellion against King George of England. “That all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Levin notes that this was not original with the colonials, for the ideas, grounded in Biblical notions, had been elaborated upon and developed by various thinkers as part of the Age of Enlightenment. Jefferson composed these common ideas into the Declaration, and it is a powerful assertion of the basic rights of all.
The American rebellion was successful, and many leading rebels were transformed into leaders of a new nation. After the Constitution was adopted and George Washington elected President, the Federalists dominated the new government. But divisions arose, and Thomas Jefferson, along with Aaron Burr and others, founded an opposition party, the Democratic-Republicans, usually deemed the origins of what would later be called the Democratic Party.
Jefferson was so admired over time that he would become one of the most honored Democrats. In the 1960s Pres. John Kennedy remarked that at some of his dinner soirees in the White House, when he would invite prominent guests in many fields, that his dinner parties were the most intellectual of any in the White House, except when Jefferson had dined alone.
In the 20th century, while Republicans might have Lincoln suppers to provide speeches for the faithful and urge contributions to the GOP, the Democrats had their fund-raising dinners to commemorate the birthdays of Jefferson and Pres. Andrew Jackson, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinners. So Levin seems correct; the words of Jefferson, if not quite eternal, continued to inspire the Democratic Party 2 centuries after his composition of the Declaration.
On Mount Rushmore, where 4 American Presidents' heads are chiseled into a mountain, Jefferson's is the only Democrat so honored - with Washington (Federalist), Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt (both Republicans). After the election of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the New Dealer began to ponder a memorial to Jefferson; FDR laid the corner stone in the late 1930s, and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington was completed after WWII. On the walls of the monument were famous words of the nation's 3rd President - words now inscribed in stone to inspire Americans of later generations. The monument included a sentence from Jefferson's Autobiography, 27 July 1821: “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [the slaves] are to be free.” Conservative critics complained that the monument's editors failed to include the very next sentence Jefferson wrote - “Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.” Just as the makers of the monument to Jefferson in mid-20th century sought to censor the words of the man to be honored, distorting his thought on the issue of race, I am left with the same impression reading Levin's omission of much of American history. Into this vacuum Levin inserts assertions about the “eternal truths” - truths that Levin has selected and deems eternal. Instead of rose-colored “truths,” it might be better to review the reality in black and white.
While Levin quotes the Declaration that all men are endowed with unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and similar phrases in the various state constitutions adopted in the Revolutionary era, there remains the question of how Jefferson, Madison, and many founders reconciled such language with the reality of slavery. And even beyond slavery – could two or more dissimilar races live under the same government?
Levin writes as if all the Founders were color blind on the question of unalienable rights. Were they?
After the US won independence, Jefferson proposed an earlier version of the Northwest Ordinance, which with modifications was accepted in 1787. In effect, it excluded slavery from what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Had the slave-owner Jefferson been converted by the eternal truths of his own words in the Declaration that somehow slavery was wrong? I doubt that. By excluding slaves, the Ordinance was also excluding most Black people then in the US. Runaways found in the new territories were to be returned to their slave owners. Moreover, the conservative Levin might have to ponder how the Federal Government was encouraging education in those territories with the Northwest Ordinance.
As the colonials won their freedom from Britain, soon there were efforts to outlaw slavery, and in the North slavery declined (sometimes abolition might come quickly, in other states slowly). In the South, when plantation owners sought to emancipate their slaves, at times upon the death of the owner, there was a new problem. Some judged free Blacks a danger, especially if the area contained a large proportion of slaves. Thus, when various prominent Americans thought of the best way to free slaves, especially in the South which had a higher proportion of Blacks, they often conjoined the notion of manumission with removal, so the American Colonization Society was created and sought to repatriate freed slaves to Africa. With American support, the nation of Liberia was founded and its capital named after an American slave-owning President, James Monroe. Monrovia remains its capital.
During the war of the American Revolution, the Tory (Loyalist) Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, in November 1775 promised freedom to Black slaves who would fight for the Crown against the colonial rebels. The American rebels asserted that runaways who took up arms against their masters would be executed. The small British forces in Virginia lost, and when Dunmore departed by ship, he took 800 to 2,000 Blacks with him. Gen. Henry Clinton later made a similar proclamation concerning all the colonies, but he took only 3,000 Blacks with him upon defeat and evacuation. The Blacks who joined the Crown's forces were shipped to Nova Scotia, and some of them would eventually leave for Freetown in West Africa.
Yet, it was the Radicals of the French Revolution, those whom Levin seems to detest most, who may have done more to abolish slavery. While Levin sees the eternal truths in the Judaeo-Christian system, natural law, and God, as the basis for the unalienable rights with which all men are created, can you have unalienable rights and morality without Natural Law and God?(19) Things moved swiftly in France. Louis and Marie Antoinette became prisoners, deemed traitors for trying to encourage other nations to invade revolutionary France. In the American colonies, the official church in most areas, the Anglican – was headed by King George III, the man the revolutionaries judged a tyrant and enemy of the people. As backlash, this conflation of king and church led to disestablishment of the official churches in much of the South, and defections to Baptists and Methodists congregations. Things went further in France. The Rights of Man were proclaimed. A new scientific approach was explored, finding new measures like centimeters to replace references to the king's body parts. The king's church came under critical scrutiny, too, and soon the Christian calendar was replaced with Year I of the Revolution, and a “rational,” 10-day week initiated, which was more in accord with the the centigrade measurements. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was converted into the Temple of the Goddess of Wisdom, and Robespierre, himself, wore a Roman toga to activate the new (and very old) approach to religion and morality. Even a new, more humane method of execution was invented and improved, and henceforth crowds could watch and cheer as nobles, and even the royals were beheaded. Thomas Paine, who had written so much to stir the souls of American colonials to rebellion, was at first welcomed in the new Republican France, but he was insufficiently politically correct, and ended in prison, where he then wrote an attack on the Christian Bible, The Age of Reason. What makes the radical Jacobins so important for America, is that some of the Jacobins were determined to extend the Rights of Man to the Black slaves of Haiti. Robespierre eventually had so much power and signed for the executions of so many, that too many feared him, and they, in turn, turned on him. He too was executed, and the “Reign of Terror” ended. But soon a Black, former slave, Toussaint L'Ouverture was in command of Haiti. The French National Assemble had seated a Black and a Colored to represent the island, and the Assembly abolished slavery in its New World islands. But with the fall of the radical Jacobins, would the French demand the return of slavery, as they returned to the 7-day week, the Christian calendar, and the Roman Church?
Napoleon rose to power in France. Instead of a king, the French now had an Emperor, and he envisioned a New World empire. Louisiana from Montana to Minnesota and down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans was then Spanish, but Napoleon had placed a brother on the Spanish throne, so he could retake the former French colony in the heart of North America. Moreover, Louisiana once extended to Ft. Duquense (Pittsburgh) and the lands north of the Ohio River. Before Napoleon could create this Louisiana empire, he had to retake the island of Haiti from the slaves. While some attribute the failure of the French military to disease, the rebel slaves won the day. Haiti's is the largest successful slave rebellion in history.
Meanwhile, the new American nation was quite naturally concerned about the possibility that the port of New Orleans might prevent export of all the American products beginning to flow down the Mississippi on rafts. A bottleneck at the mouth of the Mississippi would curtail profits and probably reduce the growth of America in the trans-Appalachian territories. Americans sought to purchase New Orleans. With the defeat of the French forces in Haiti, Napoleon scrapped his Louisiana fantasy, and offered to sell the entire territory. America nearly doubled in size with the Louisiana Purchase. It is rarely mentioned, but with this purchase, America began another experiment: could an overwhelmingly Protestant nation (the whites and Blacks), absorb and unite with Roman Catholic Louisiana? In 1803 there was not a single, legal Protestant church in New Orleans or west of the Mississippi. By the 1830s New Orleans was the largest city in the American South, a title it would retain until 1960 – a Catholic enclave (at least among the white residents), in the overwhelmingly Protestant South}.
Haiti had an impact on the US. Many of the refugees who fled the rebellion in Haiti came to New Orleans, and this included whites, free coloreds, and slaves. Perhaps a quarter of the Crescent City's population were Haitian refugees in the early 1800s. Though historian Herbert Aptheker found 250 slave revolts in the American South, most may have been more fear than reality. But the reality of Haiti fed the fears. This was one reason in parts of the South there was a determination to prevent slaves from becoming free or even learning to read. The American Colonization Society was thus acceptable, for it was a way to get the freed Blacks away so they could not cause a slave rebellion here. Occasionally there were a few major slave revolts in the US; Nat Turner's 1831 insurrection in Virginia, and the lesser-known, larger, 1811 German Coast rebellion in Louisiana, but the militarization of the South with local white militias was meant to prevent insurrection, and they were generally successful. Nevertheless, there was the fear of free Blacks, and even in more tolerant New Orleans, things grew more difficult for Free People of Color. Although many whites might value an invitation to the Quadroon Balls, and the armed Free People of Color had helped Gen. Jackson defeat the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, by the 1850s laws were passes so that FPCs had to wear identifying clothing so others would recognized them (like Jews had to wear yellow stars in Germany by the late 1930s). When war broke out between the North and South in 1861, in New Orleans the Free People of Color marched and volunteered to fight for the South, but their offer was rejected by Confederate authorities. Eventually, most of the FPCs joined the Union Army instead.
But New Orleans, with its Catholic dominance, a major port of the new nation, a large slave market, but an influential group of FPCs, plus growing numbers of Americans who came from up river and immigrants, especially from Ireland to escape the famine, arriving as ballast to stabilize the boats that would return to Britain with cotton, this more easy-going culture was not typical of America. Indeed, some of the free Blacks, studied in France, and one Black family of 13 owned a total of 215 slaves in 1830. There was an opera house and the French language, and newspapers competed with English. Alas, occasionally yellow fever epidemics would decimate large numbers of the population. New Orleans culture was fascinating, but it was not typical of America.
More typical was the rest of the new nation. Even before the US was a nation, there were widespread impulses that brought forth that nation. And though Levin and most stress the rationalist and scientific impulses of the Enlightenment, that seemed to find fruition in the American Revolution, expressed not only in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, it was seen also in the religious aspects of the era. Prior to the Revolution, there was the Great Awakening (1730-40s) of fiery preaching and mass meetings that provided an emotional side to religion often lacking in the government-supported Anglican churches of the South, or the official Calvinist churches of New England.
The evangelical preaching of the Great Awakening often occurred outdoors. The ministers, like Jonathan Edwards, appealed to the emotions, demanding that the listeners not simply assert that they were Christians, but use their embrace of Jesus to reform their lives; they could be reborn if they accepted Jesus fully, not simply intellectually, but in every way. The effective preaching, along with the music that often accompanied these revivals, appealed beyond any one church. Many attended – Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and even some Anglicans. It was a mass movement. And in parts of the South, the preachers let Blacks attend, even slaves. Some preachers urged slave-owners to educate their slaves so they might read the Bibles. Not all owners agreed, and in some states, after news of Haiti, it was illegal to teach a slave to read. The preachers were not abolitionists, but declared there would be equality in Heaven for all the Godly folks. The use of music and the lack of interest in theology, the belief that a truly motivated Christian could preach the Gospel, was interpreted so that even uneducated, but sincere people could preach. This might have meaning for Black slaves, especially when masters did not want slaves to attend the same church as their owners.
Not all congregants appreciated the emotionalism of the Great Awakening. In some churches there was a reaction, one that stressed restraint, reason, and science, with more contemplative sermons and responses. As the fighting against the King's troops erupted in New England, some of the churches decided to reject both king and the trinity; they became Unitarian. King's Church in Boston became Unitarian, as did the one whose steeple signaled one if by land and 2 if by sea. John Adams, 2nd President, and his son John Quincy Adams, were both Unitarians. Although Jefferson remained high church, he was accused of being in infidel when he ran for president, and many see in him a Deist. He also wrote a few sentences sympathetic to the Unitarian movement, and helped chemist Joseph Priestly, the discoverer of oxygen, when he had to flee England because he was Unitarian. Moreover, Jefferson wrote for himself what is called the Jefferson Bible, the Bible but with all miracles expunged.
In early America, before there were many Jews, - Unitarians and Quakers often provided some of the cultural cohesion for the new nation. And many of these would be linked with reform – Horace Mann in founding public schools, Ralph Waldo Emerson was for a time a Unitarian minister, the Harvard Divinity School became Unitarian by 1818 and remained so for several decades. The church was influenced by the German Transcendentalists, and some partook in communes. With Quakers and others, Unitarians were active in women's rights, abolitionism, prison reforms and reforms for the mentally handicapped (Dorothea Dix, Unitarian, and next century Jane Addams, member of a Presby. Church but regularly attended the Unit. one; she was also founder of Hull House, and one of the founders of the ACLU), Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton (a Universalists, but now it is part of the UUA). Rev. Theodore Parker was such a staunch abolitionist that when he preached, he had a pistol in the lectern to prevent anyone from trying to remove a runaway slave back to the South. After the war began, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Unit., was selected by the Gov. of Massachusetts to lead the 54th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, the first Northern regiment of Black troops. Shaw and some of his troops are depicted in a famous bronze high relief monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens across from the Mass. State Capitol on the Boston Commons.
Yet, there is more to the story of Unit. Reform in 19th century America, a story purposely deleted today to avoid embarrassment, like the additional sentences that might have marred the Jefferson Memorial. There were Unit. Churches beyond Boston, beyond even New England. Who founded the Unit. Church in Washington, DC? Who founded the one in Charleston, SC? They were both founded by the same man, a Senator, a Vice President of the US, and a prominent politician. John C Calhoun of South Carolina, the defender of states' rights and the right to secede from the national union, and an opponent of abolitionism. Calhoun too was a Unitarian.
But perhaps Calhoun's Unitarianism was not such an aberration. If the church stressed reason and science, what was the scientific view of race in the 19th century? Here is how google summarized a Boston Globe article (27 Jun 2012) about a 19th century, highly respected Harvard professor: “The 19th-century Swiss-born naturalist Louis Agassiz was a revered figure at Harvard University. He was also a racist who commissioned humiliating photographs of slaves and Brazilian natives.” The distinguished scientist did not believe all people were equal. Google summarized a Harvard Gazette piece (19 May 2007) on another aspect of the scientist Agassiz :
“Unfortunately Agassiz chose the wrong side in what turned out to be the 19th century's greatest scientific controversy, and as a result ended his career as something of an anachronism. The controversy was over Charles Darwin's 'on the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,'...”
And on the subject, what was Darwin's views on race? Though Darwin the individual may have been quite sympathetic to Blacks, his writings may be less so. In his “Descent of Man,” Darwin describes the white races as “civilized,” while the others, including Blacks, are described as “savage” races. And the implications of his work are, in time the civilized will eliminate the savage races.
How would the new America cope with numerous Black slaves in the South and uncounted Amerindians in the coastal states and far more beyond the Alleghenies? In the North, where Blacks were a smaller percentage of the population, slavery was voted out of existence quickly, or in some states gradually to apply to all those legally bound. But the importance of the cotton crop to the South led to extensive use of slave labor on plantations. What should be the role of the races in the South. During the War of 1812. the Americans hoped to conquer Canada, and failed. The British attacked the new capital of Washington, burned the White House, and Pres. and Mrs. Madison were fortunate to escape capture by the red coats. While peace-talks inched forward in Ghent, Belgium, the British decided to take New Orleans, which would bottle up the Americans at the mouth of the Mississippi. British and Spanish joint ventures, along with Indians might solidify Spanish rule in Florida, and with a British victory in New Orleans, the British and Spanish might win much of the Mississippi valley to a new venture with aid from the native French and Indian populations to push the Americans back across the mountains.
The British, who had just defeated Napoleon in Europe and burnt the American capital were confident. Andrew Jackson, who had had little support from the Federal govt., was much on his own as the British threat approached. Jackson called upon all the people of New Orleans to help in its defense – those of French and American extraction. He called upon the pirates led by Jean Lafitte to help. And he got help from local Indians and Free People of Color. Slaves helped dig defensive trenches. Though numbers by authorities vary, the British lost about 2,000 casualties, including Gen. Packenham, a relative of Wellington. The Americans lost from 25 to 100. The peace treaty, unbeknownst to those this side of the Atlantic, had already been signed before the battle, but some provisions were ambiguous, so that ownership might depend on who held certain territories at the conclusion of the war. Jackson's victory removed the ambiguity – New Orleans, and the Mississippi valley were to remain American. Gen. Jackson became such a hero, in the Presidential race of 1824 he won more votes than any of his opponents, but the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams as President. Jackson ran again in 1828 and won decisively, the many new voters rejecting the aristocratic airs of the old Federalist and Virginia dynasties of the Democratic-Republicans. Jackson had been born in a log cabin, was a fighter and a duelist, and gathered together a rag-tag army to save New Orleans and the West for America. He was a “populist” Democrat President. Jackson was also a slave-owner, and saw nothing wrong with that. He had fought Indians who had massacred whites settlers, but was happy to have other Indians join with him in a war against those who sought to rid the land of the whites. He was delighted when some Indians helped in the Battle of New Orleans.
But when in the State of Georgia and territory of Alabama, disputes rose between the “civilized” Indians and whites, Pres. Jackson took the side of the whites. Eventually, he demanded the removal of the Indians, including the “civilized” ones to the west – what would become Indian Territory, and later Oklahoma. When the US Supreme Court overruled his decision, Jackson famously asserted that the Court had made its decision; now let it enforce it. Without the capitulation of the Executive branch, the Court was powerless; the Indians were removed to the west. Jackson was so popular, he was often credited with re-inventing the Party first established by Jefferson and Burr. Clearly, Jackson believed that America was primarily for white people and their values. Yet, he was also strongly for one united nation. When Calhoun of South Carolina promoted nullification of a tariff, and possible secession, Jackson was totally against. Calhoun had been VP under Jackson during the general's first term. For his second term, Jackson replaced Calhoun with Martin van Buren. America remained basically a white people's republic.
Slavery grew as an issue. Even in 1820 there was a major debate on admitting Missouri as a state, for it would enter as a slave state, tilting the balance in favor of slave states in the union. A compromise was reached when a part of Massachusetts, what we call Maine today, was admitted simultaneously as a free state, and the balance was retained.
There were anti-slavery elements in the South, including those who defied the law and taught their slaves to read, to those who might let a slave earn money in the city and purchase his freedom. Later, some very few might even help slaves escape, writing passes for them. In the North there were egalitarians, but many opposed slavery because they did now want Blacks to come to their state. Former Pres. John Q. Adams returned to the House of Representatives where he openly opposed slavery. As an attorney, he helped defend the slaves who rebelled and took charge of the Spanish ship Amistad which sailed into American waters. With Adams' help, the rebellious slaves won their case and were returned to Africa. Demands by Spain for compensation for its loss of property went unfulfilled. The slave issue seemed to grow in the 1850s, and the Whig Party, even with anti-slavery advocates like Adams, eventually floundered as the party sought to compromise the subject. A new party devoted to preventing the expansion of slavery, the Republican Party was born. A generalization is in order – most Americans remained Protestants. The South outside of Louisiana was overwhelmingly Protestant, and would later be called the Bible Belt. The North developed industry, and attracted more immigrants, some of whom were Roman Catholics. There were sufficient conflicts of culture that the Know-Nothing Party, or American Party rose, and it tended to be anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant. There was another area of division over religion. Many Americans wanted to expand and grow crops in the sparsely populated area west of the Sabine River in today's east Texas. They were granted permission by the Mexican government, but they had to pledge to become Roman Catholics. Later, the Mexicans also demanded an end to slavery, which would have restricted cotton culture and profits of the Americans. Then Antonio de Santa Ana became military dictator of Mexico and the Americans of Texas revolted. Democrats like Jackson and Pres. Polk were delighted; while some of the new Whigs opposed any war with Mexico, which they considered to be a war on behalf of slavery. Adams in Congress, and the young Abraham Lincoln were examples of Whig opponents of the war. (In the following election, Lincoln lost his House seat.) Eventually, the American army marched into Mexico City, - the Mexicans were thoroughly defeated, and Texas, California, and parts of other states were ceded to the United States. Interestingly, some Irishmen who had fled the famine across the Atlantic, joined the American army, were sent to fight in that war, but they preferred to fight beside their fellow Catholics rather than for Protestant America. The San Patricio Battalion changed sides, and there is a monument to them in Mexico.
But America was not consumed with anti-Catholicism. Pres. Jackson appointed a Catholic from Maryland to his Cabinet – the first Catholic to hold such a high post. Later Jackson demonstrated his tolerance once again when he appointed the same Catholic to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Justice Roger Taney was the first Catholic appointed to the high court. It might be instructive to contrast the Chief Justice's view of the eternal truths of the Founding Fathers with the view of Mark Levin. Wikipedia describes Taney thusly:
“He delivered the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), that ruled, among other things, that African-Americans, having been considered inferior at the time the United States Constitution was drafted, were not part of the original community of citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States, which created an uproar among abolitionists and the free states of the northern U.S.
“The Taney Court ruled that persons of African descent could not be, nor were ever intended to be, citizens under the U.S. Constitution, and that the plaintiff (Scott) was without legal standing to file a suit. The framers of the Constitution, Taney wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
Was this an eternal truth of the Founding Fathers?
As slavery became the dominant issue in American politics, parties re-formed. Most of the South was Protestant, but the denominations split north and south – Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians. In the South most began to drift more heavily into the Democratic Party, with some remaining with the Whigs under a different name. But in the North Protestants tended to dislike slavery and were attracted to the Republican Party. The Catholic minority in the North tended toward the Democrats, and many working class whites feared competition from Blacks and any newly freed slaves. Their view was, why fight to end slavery, which would only hurt the white worker in the long run? The anti-draft riots in New York City during the Civil War were also anti-Black riots. Many Catholics saw the Democratic Party as the tolerant party.
The first person of Jewish heritage to enter the US Senate was David Levy Yulee in 1845, representing the state of Florida. Because he converted to Christianity, some might contend that the first Jew elected to the US Senate was therefore Judah P. Benjamin in 1852. Benjamin represented Louisiana. Both he and Yulee were slave-owners and defended that institution. Benjamin would also be the first Jew to serve in a President's Cabinet, holding several posts including Sec. of State for Pres. Jefferson Davis of the CSA. While the South showed tolerance to this religion, during the war, Union Gen. Ulysses Grant displayed a different approach. In mid-December 1862 Grant ordered the expulsion of all Jews in his jurisdiction, giving them 24 hours in which to leave. Grant was in charge of lands about the size of 6 Rhode Islands, centered around Memphis, Tennessee, and including parts of that state, Kentucky, and Mississippi. On January 4, 1863, Pres. Lincoln officially rescinded Grant's order, but some contend Lincoln had voided Grant's order after only 3 days in December.
In 1858 in Illinois, the prominent Democratic politician, Stephen Douglas, engaged in a series of debates with his Republican rival for the US Senate, Abraham Lincoln. What did the Great Emancipator say? Here is an excerpt from one of the debates by candidate Lincoln:
“While I was at the hotel to—day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes.”(18 Sept. 1858)
Douglas won the Senate seat for Illinois, but Lincoln's views were so popular that in the Mid-West, he would become the leading Republican candidate for President in 1860. Indeed, there was a deju vu aspect to the Presidential election, for Lincoln was the Republican nominee; and Sen. Stephen Douglas of Ill. was the nominee of the Democrats. However, the Southern Democrats held a separate convention and nominated Vice President John Breckinridge of Kentucky, while the Constitutional Union Party chose John Bell of Tennessee. Lincoln received almost zero votes in the South, so his voters were concentrated in the North. Douglas had support throughout the nation, but usually came in 2nd or 3rd in most states. He carried only one, Missouri. Breckinridge carried most of the South, while Bell carried a few border states. Lincoln carried most states for 180 Electoral votes; the total for all his opponents was only 123. But the popular vote was quite different – Lincoln led with only 39.8% of the vote. One might contend he lacked a mandate. 60% of the electorate had voted against Lincoln. He had to sneak into the Capital to avoid assassination, but in March 1861 Lincoln took the oath of office, being sworn in by Chief Justice Roger Taney.
This is not the place to discuss the Civil War. In the end, Black troops were essential for victory. As the South crumbled, Sec. Benjamin suggested that the CSA recruit Blacks, but that idea was again rejected. Some Southerners believed that armed Confederate Blacks would also mean the end of slavery. However, in Louisiana, the governor did accept over 200 armed FPCs as part of the state militia, and the number grew to 1,000, sworn to defend the Confederacy. After New Orleans was captured by the Federals, some 10% of the Black militia changed sides, became the Corps d'Afrique for the Union side. Though the casualties were the heaviest of any American war, nevertheless, there was a US Presidential election conducted in Nov. 1864. Many thought that if Gen. George McClellan and the Democrats won, they would stop the enormous bloodshed and come to an understanding and compromise with the Confederates. Lincoln and the Republicans were sufficiently worried they dropped VP Republican Hanibal Hamlin of Maine from the ticket, and replaced him with a pro-Union Southern military governor of Tennessee, and a war-Democrat, Andrew Johnson. Lincoln's party was essentially renamed “the National Union Party.” Lincoln's worries about an electoral defeat proved overly pessimistic, for he won about 55% of the popular vote and a landslide in the Electoral. The people had voted to continue the war. Several months later, the South lost. Some stress that Lincoln changed his attitude toward Blacks during the war. By war's end, he was proposing suffrage for some intelligent Blacks. But Lincoln was also interested in relocating Blacks to Haiti or elsewhere. In his 2nd inaugural address (4 March 1865), Lincoln asserted that slavery was the cause of the Civil War, but he ended his speech ambiguously: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, ...” Was he pronouncing a mild or harsh policy toward those in rebellion (which was still being fought)? A month later, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army, essentially ending the war, and 5 days thereafter a conspiracy resulted in the assassination of Pres. Lincoln. Murders can change history. Though we may argue about what Lincoln's plans were for the victorious nation and the defeated states, there was soon a clash between Vice President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee and most of the Republican Congress. Using the power of the Presidency, Johnson pardoned many of the rebel plantation owners, which restored their lands to them. This also burst the dreams of “40 acres and a mule,” which former slaves hoped to receive by dividing the masters' plantations. New amendments to the Constitution were ratified, one ending slavery, and the other providing citizenship for all born in the US whose allegiance was to the US (a century later, a power-grabbing liberal Supreme Court justice, in a footnote to another case, extended citizenship to the children of invaders of this country, thus creating the issue of anchor babies.)
Crucial in the power struggle was the ratification and ramifications of the 13th Amendment, for if Blacks were no longer slaves, then they were no longer to be counted as 3/5s of a person for apportioning legislators in Congress. So the states with large numbers of former slaves would now have increased representation in the House of Representatives. Thus, by counting Blacks as one, rather than 3/5ths of a person, the Southern states would have more representatives and more power in the national Congress. When in the South attempts were made to organize the Republican Party, with some whites and Blacks who had served in the US Army, the Southern Democratic controlled police led riots against these radicals who demanded the right of Blacks to vote. Hundreds were killed in Memphis and New Orleans, and there was a backlash against Southerner Pres. Johnson's lenient policies. And in early elections, the South was returning its old leaders, choosing for example, Alexander H. Stephens, the VP of the Confederacy to the next Senate. In the mid-term elections of 1866, the Radical Republicans won Congress overwhelmingly, they refused to seat returning Confederate leaders like Stephens, and Congress nearly impeached President Johnson.
In reality, THE CIVIL WAR WOULD CONTINUE IN THE SOUTH UNTIL 1898. The Freedmen's Bureau (a fed. Agency established to aid the newly freed Blacks), Black Union veterans, “carpetbaggers,” (Yankees who came South with nothing but what they could carry in a small luggage, hoping to make their fortunes in the new South), and “scalliwags,” (renegade Southerners who supported the alien Republican Party), were on one side; Democrats and their paramilitary organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, Knights of the White Camellia, did what they could to overthrow the Republican state organizations. White Democrats still owned the land, still had many familiar with the law, and had the support of the northern Democratic Party. In the North, there was waning desire for a long-term military occupation of the South, and even Northern Republicans tired of stories of intimidation and murder of dissidents in the South. In some ways it was analogous to eastern Europe after WWII; in the American South, idealists and egalitarian Republicans sought to erase remnants of slavery as they tried to reconstruct that section of the country. In Europe's east, idealists and egalitarian Marxists sought to erase fascism and reconstruct that section of Europe. In both cases they relied on occupation forces to keep them in power. In 1990 the Soviets made it clear they would no longer use their military to prop up the “socialist” governments of eastern Europe – and they all fell with the wall. The North was not as solidly Republican as the USSR was Communist, and most Northern troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877; with that most Republican state governments crumbled. In local areas, Republicans still had a chance. However, in 1898 a revolution in Wilmington, North Carolina overturned the voting results, - the last Black Republican in the US House of Representatives from the South “lost” re-election. Thereafter, only whites would represent the South for decades into the 20 century, establishing the “Solid South” for the Democrats. By 1900, the civil war in the South was over, and there was little doubt, the South was white man's country.
And the nation? In 1890 Louisiana passed a law segregating the races on trains. A few years later a respectable African-American, Homer Plessy, refused to move from the white car, and was arrested and charged with violating the law. In 1896 the case went to the US Supreme Court, which ruled 7-1 against Plessy, arguing that separate but equal facilities were Constitutional. Segregation was thus deemed legal, and not necessarily limited to the South, for Justice Brown in upholding the separate but equal doctrine, cited a Boston law requiring racial segregation of its schools. The lone dissenter, Justice John Marshall Harlan, declared our Constitution is “color blind,” a view rejected by the majority then, and rejected even more vehemently by the leftists of today. Many thought the ruling appropriate, and in accord with the scientific and political realities of the era. By 1900 almost all of Africa was colonized under European rule (Abyssinia and Liberia, the exceptions), most of Asia was also succumbing to European rule (foreign troops even entered Beijing to suppress the Boxer Rebellion.) And scientists produced papers showing the superiority of various European groups. America, following a war with Spain, suddenly had colonies and semi-colonies also.
When professorial, progressive Democrat Pres. Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1912, he soon showed in the White House the extremely popular film by D. W. Griffith, “Birth of a Nation.” The movie depicted the birth of the Confederacy, Civil War, the horrors of Black Reconstruction, and the salvation of the South by the KKK. As the film was shown throughout the nation, it inspired a rebirth of the KKK, even in northern and western states.
Though the Federal civil service was much smaller a century ago, Pres. Wilson instituted segregation inside the Federal system. And at the end of the war to save democracy, when Wilson sought to insure a lasting peace through creation of the League of Nations, Wilson utterly rejected the Japanese proposal for a resolution on racial equality. At the 1924 Democratic Convention, it took 103 ballots to choose a candidate other than the KKK favorite.
About the same time, the Immigration law was corrected so new immigrants would reflect the composition of the nation in 1890 – more from northern Europe, fewer from eastern or southern. Asians were basically excluded. This immigration act was endorsed not only by the influential KKK, but by the AFL labor unions.
During WWII, following the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii, there were demands to round-up all the Japanese on the West Coast, even if they were American citizens. German and Italian foreign nationals were incarcerated, but not American citizens of German or Italian heritage. However, liberal Republican, Earl Warren, Attorney General of California, wanted the round-up of all Japanese in his state, and liberal Democratic President, Franklin Roosevelt also thought it a good idea. The Japanese of the west coast, including American citizens were required to be relocated into more centrally located concentration camps. During WWII, most Blacks drafted were assigned to segregated units. In 1950 there was little doubt that the US was still white man's country.
In 1954 the US Supreme Court reversed itself, and ruled that separate but equal was unConstitutional because separating by race was itself discriminatory. Earl Warren was Chief Justice and all 9 court members made the decision unanimous. Oliver Brown was suing the School Board of Topeka, Kansas, showing that segregation was not limited to the South. Several cases were bundled in this decision. The court used sociological and psychological data to justify overruling the Plessy precedent of nearly 60 years. Some on Wikipedia also note that in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, America's racial policies were being used against the West, especially in newly independent nations.
By 1960 large scale civil rights protests began to spread throughout the nation. New organizations, using Gandhi's non-violent methods, sought to end segregation by means other than law cases. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) became the spearheads in pressing for change. In 1963 there was a large March on Washington, at which Rev. M. L. King gave his “I have a dream,” speech, and after the revulsion following the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy, the Civil Rights Act was passed in July 1964. The new law provided for equal opportunity for job applicants, and it outlawed various types of discrimination. A govt. board would have latitude to interpret and enforce the law (the EEOC). This seemed to confirm that Levin's interpretation of the Constitution was enacted into more contemporary law. However, that era was to be short-lived.
Equal opportunity and equal rights were quickly supplanted – for they did not produce the desired equal results. The EEOC soon decided to scuttle the law they were meant to enforce, and with the help of liberal judges, turned the law on its head. While the law explicitly forbade quotas, the EEOC adopted the unscientific view that all groups are equally gifted in all things, and if a group is less successful in a given endeavor, the reason must be discrimination, racism, and later sexism. Application of this absurd hypothesis became the rock upon which disparate impact, critical race studies, diversity and most other affirmative-actions programs are justified.
When Blacks failed objective exams, the EEOC sought to throw out the exams, or claim the exams were biased because Blacks did poorly on them. Eliminate the exams or make them so easy, that all takers pass them, and in theory, all are qualified for a post, and then Personnel (or whatever the latest name for the department), can then hire by racial quota. Or later, sexual quota. Later, ethnic quota. But never call them quotas, because the law makes quotas illegal. So call the quotas “goals and timetables,” or now, “diversity.” Through Executive Action, Republican Pres. Richard Nixon made this national policy. The EEOC's method is to force hiring of lesser qualified minorities or women (all now basically qualified by simplistic exams) to fill quotas and call the process affirmative action preferences. Equal opportunity means giving privileges to lesser qualified candidates. As in Animal Farm, all are equal, but some are more equal than others.
So for the last half century in America we have not experienced equality before the law – we have experienced anti-white and anti-male racist and sexist laws. These rarely affect the affluent whites, but have been devastating to the poor and many middle-class whites. Meanwhile, mass immigration of illegals has destroyed job prospects for many Blacks.
Beginning in the late 1960s but reaching a crescendo under Pres. Barack Obama, police, especially white police officers, became villains in much of the media and vilified by liberal judges and politicians. In the movies of the 1930s, there is often a scene where a police officer, in pursuit of a fleeing criminal, shouts, “Stop! Stop, or I'll shoot!” The pistol is raised and he shoots. The viewing audiences accepted this as normal procedure to apprehend criminals. In the late 1950s to late 60s, it was easy for TV and films to portray sheriffs, particularly those in the South, as violent, corrupt, racists. However, by 1970, many began to view all police as racist bullies.
The other change occurred in the civil rights movement. In the 1930s, and 40s, civil rights groups, often led by Communists or those sympathetic to that cause, tended to be integrated, stressing the roles of Blacks and whites together. The movement of the early 1960s, more open, less rigid ideologically, also sought integration. The methods were non-violent, protestors sought to dress in more middle-class attire, for the point was to present a non-threatening image. Just push for a more just solution. Not all accepted this approach, most notably Malcolm X who sneered at the non-violent students and mocked the “Farce on Washington.” The segregationist Nation of Islam in June 1961 did invite a few whites to a mass meeting of 8,000 Muslims in Washington, D. C. The few whites so honored were members of the American Nazi Party wearing swastikas on their uniforms. Cartoons in the NoI newspaper depicted integrating whites with hooked noses and other Jewish stereotypes. The NoI was a Black Nationalist organization following the path of the immensely popular Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Assn. which had massive support in the 1920s. Deported to Britain, Garvey asserted “We [the UNIA] were the first fascists.”
After passage of the Civil Rights Act, integration activist organizations began to change. One after another chapters of CORE and SNCC expelled their white members and followed West Indian Stokely Carmichael's call for “Black Power.” Non-violence too was dismissed as SNCC became the Student National Coordinating Committee. But more romance flowed round the California Black Panthers organization, where members openly carried weapons, speeches were anything but conciliatory, and behind the scenes, there were allegations of drug dealing and murder. But rioting and violence were not limited to the Panthers, or to Blacks, as anti-war protests blossomed with flower power, which could end in clashes.
By 1970 the Civil Rights Movement had ceased to exist – except in name. Black Power, Black nationalism, Black racism now paraded under the false and deceptive banner of fighting for civil rights.
After the assassination of M. L. King, sections of many American cities burned. A blue-ribbon panel, the Kerner Commission, studied the riots and concluded that the root causes were white racism, lack of minority voices in the media, failure to understand cultural deprivation in the Black communities, poverty, etc. Even when there were no riots, Black crime rates soared; one newspaper describing the phenomenon as a riot in slow motion. In this atmosphere, liberal Republican Pres. Richard Nixon lobbied the NAACP to support the quota interpretation of civil rights, and Congress very narrowly passed a resolution to save the quota-requiring Philadelphia Plan for construction-worker hires. Nixon then used Executive Action to make that quota version of affirmative action national policy.
The courts were caving to the Left, also. The Supreme Court required the reading of the Miranda warning when police caught a thief or other criminal - “You have a right to remain silent...” So it was more difficult to get immediate confessions. Worse, the Supreme Court even forbade executions as unConstitutional, even though the Constitution itself mentions the death penalty for a crime. Lunatic asylums were often closed, and crazy people were left on the streets, criminals were on the streets after serving little or no time. The social structure began to crumble with much of the physical infrastructure. Most important, much of the increasing crime was committed by Blacks, and when it was interracial, it was overwhelmingly Black on white crime. Liberals demanded leniency, so Blacks were punished less. A white murderer was more likely to be executed than a Black one when some states re-instituted the death penalty. By the 21st century, Blacks had invented a knock-out game, trying to knock out a white victim with one punch, and then show it on YouTube. Sometimes the white was robbed; sometimes not. Just the joy of beating a white was good enough. Meanwhile, academics proclaimed, Blacks could not be racists, no matter what they did. And later the academedia complex asserted all whites were racists, enjoying white privilege, and implicitly, deserving to be beaten! And in today's America, is there a “crime” worse than “racism”?
Basically, since 1970, America ceased to be a white man's country. But it is not a nation of equality, it is an anti-white man's country. The culmination of this trend occurred under the Barack Obama Administration. Not only had Obama sat for years in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's church hearing his anti-white sermons, not only had he had as a major mentor when a teenager, a Black who was a member of the Communist Party, USA, and who wrote for the CP newspaper in Hawaii, Obama also had his photograph taken with Rev. Farrakhan of the NoI, and also marched in Selma beside members of the virulently anti-white New Black Panther Party. Obama was a strong believer in the quota system of justice; if Blacks are proportionally in prison at rates higher than other races, the reason must be racism. So the Administration, with his Dept. of Justice, Education Dept., and other agencies were determined to end the “school to prison pipeline” that placed so many minorities in jails and made it so difficult for them to get good jobs. Their solution – don't arrest school kids if they act up, or do a few small things, or curse out their teachers, or hit them, or hit fellow students, - instead talk to them, counsel them, help them.
Ann Coulter's wonderful article (“Racial Quotas in School Discipline Kills Kids”) explains how this policy – the “Promise Program” - played out in Florida. The disruptive student with an Hispanic name (he may look white, but Elizabeth Warren also looks white yet she used her alleged status as a “Native American” to get affirmative action minority privileges into Harvard), Nicholas Cruz was threatening people, disruptive, doing things where he should have been arrested. But, we don't want to have another minority youth end in prison, so nothing was done. Cruz was not arrested; he had no record. So when he went to purchase guns, having no record, he could purchase weapons legally. Mr. Cruz then shot and killed 17 students at the Parkland School in Florida. The fault was not the guns, but the Obama policies that permitted the young man who threatened to kill others, allowed him to have a clean record so he could purchase firearms and follow through with his threats – killing 17. Promise Program, or promise to kill program?
After the Obama Adm. and media blitz against police, more police, white and Black are being killed by thugs, and other police are reluctant to use force against Black criminals because the media, and politicized Police Chiefs, will make them scapegoats and call them racists.
In today's America, being a “racist,” is probably more of a crime than being a murderer. And only whites can be racists. I don't have space to detail the last 50 years of anti-white discrimination that has enveloped this land, but one can read some of the horror stories and the cover-ups in works by Colin Flaherty.
Interesting too is how the Left still promotes the experiment of a third-grade school teacher in April 1968. Jane Elliott divided her class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed students, and the latter also wore a brown collar, so they could be readily recognized (her class was all white.). She told the class the blue-eyed students were better, smarter. She gave them extra play time, and more food. She belittled the others and encouraged the blues to do so, too. Soon, the brown-eyed lost interest, did worse on exams, and there was the self-fulfilling prophesy whereby discrimination, even arbitrary discrimination, could result in superior/inferior groups. The Left has learned this lesson with a vengance. Today, in grade schools some feminist teachers refuse to call on males in their classes, treating them as threats to the new order. Boys lose interest and get poor grades. At university, one professor openly wrote how she stacked the discussions in her classes. She would call first on Black women, then other women of color, then other women, then men in similar order. One wonders if she ever got to call on a white male. I had never heard of the word stacking to mean this overt method of discrimination, but it had become a new common word for the new common proctice. Purpose – discriminate and promote hate against white males.
With massive immigration, legal and illegal, that followed the change of the immigration law in 1965, it is predicted whites will become a minority in the US around 2050. Already, whites are victims of legal discrimination and much illegal violent crime and continual academedia smears. The Mandelas of South Africa were cheered in the US and throughout much of the world. Yet, in election campaigns, Winnie Mandela sang a song to rouse the voters, “Kill the Boers!” These were Afrikaner farmers of Dutch descent that have been in Africa for several hundred years. For sometime now, in the new, lawless Republic of South Africa, many Boers have been tortured and killed by Blacks. Recently, the Parliament voted to confiscate the lands of the Boers. Can the two races live together under the same government? Or to ask the question in a different manner, if whites are being deprived of equal rights in the US while whites are still the majority, what will happen to whites when they become the minority?
And what happens in the US after 2050? Can the races live under the same government?
I think we can, but only if we return to the notions of the civil rights movementof the early 1960s, to threat all regardless of race, color, or creed. To treat all equally, and ignore the results by race, gender, ethnos. Levin quotes F. A. Hayek with words worth pondering (201-202): “[O]nly because men are in fact unequal can we treat them equally. If all men were completely equal in their gifts and inclinations, we should have to treat them differently in order to achieve any sort of social organization.”
Levin makes an easy case in his book by asserting that the views of the Founding Fathers are the eternal truths, that all are created equal with unalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, it is clear many of the Founders, and other major figures in American history believed the races could not live under the same government equally. And during most of American history, the two major races, demographically, did not live here equally. Until 1960, it was white man's country. After 1970, it has become the land of the anti-white, with physical attacks (violent crime, often unpunished), theft (“youths” rampage in malls, in stores, atop cars, riots, mob actions, “protests”). Public schools, public parks, public this or that have often become no-go zones for whites. The government takes the taxes, but whites may be denied services because of threats. And we have only to listen to academics to learn of “evil” white genes and other excuses to take whatever they want away from whites. Is the future of America an anti-white, 3rd world country? If we continue with group rights, quotas, and denial of the individual, that is the grim future.
The only way all races can live under the same government is to judge each individual as an individual, and not by race or quota. If diversity is such a wonderful asset, why aren't people shouting at basketball games for more white players so the teams reflect the general population? More football teams that look like America? If we want all races to live in peace in America, we must return to the original meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – to treat all without regard to race, color, or creed.
Levin's book is deceptive because he lays out the Declaration of Independence as the basis for the eternal truths that he sees working in Americanism. But for this vision, Levin must ignore the counter view of America, that it was a nation where various races could not live under the same government, or if they did, one must be in a superior position and the others inferior. Some of the same Founding Fathers expressed these counter views, and one heard it again with Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, and more implicity and discreetly in more recent national figures. This counter theme is not only audible in words, but in the actions of this nation's leaders. For Levin to write a worthy book, he should have confronted these counter, possibly contradictory, eternal truths. Or can they both true?
Friday, April 6, 2018
THE STORY OF ANDREW JACKSON: 250 YEARS LATER
Series, People that Changed the Course of History (Ocala, FL: Atlantic Pub. Group, c 2016)
BY DANIELLE THORNE
Rev. by Hugh Murray
Danielle Thorne has written a short book aimed at young adults, but the question she raises in this series is one all should ponder, - “People that changed the Course of History.” 250 years after his birth, is Andrew Jackson worthy to be included in this series?
Her biography demonstrates, but should have stressed more, that our notions of the “wild West” - Texas, Montana, California, Colorado, Wyoming, those notions, those values, those battles with savages of various colors, occurred in the 'wild west' of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, etc. Indians massacring white settlers, settlers slaughtering Indians, both sides suspicious of the other. But in the early wild West in the lands to become Tennessee and Kentucky, white men were hot headed (many still are), and a few words might be deemed an insult and a duel could, and sometimes did result. Thorne notes that seconds in duels could try to resolve the disputes, sometimes with both antagonists shooting up in the air, allowing both duelists to save face, and perhaps their lives. But sometimes the duels were resolved in blood, and Andrew Jackson nearly lost an arm (in the end, he gained a bullet in that limb), and Jackson also killed an opponent in one such duel.
Because of the many films depicting the American West our images of such gunfights at the corral or at high noon or in hundreds of other films and early popular television series, we rarely think of the same attitudes and activities occurring in the early wild west of North Carolina or Kentucky. The recurring themes lasted as long as there was a frontier. The more formal duels of Hamilton and Burr and Jackson and Charles Dickinson may have been replaced by simpler rules – or no rules, but the basic theme remained the same.
Another point was the brutalities and meanness of the wars on what is now American soil. But in the case of the British against the colonial rebels, there is the general question of how does any occupying army treat rebels who oppose them? Americans may recall TV news of American soldiers in Vietnam setting afire the huts of peasants believed to be Vietcong. Older films portray Nazi occupiers of Italy who might kill 10 or more civilians for each German soldier slain by underground resisters. Yet, it is still a shock to read how a British officer treats a teenage Andrew Jackson and his aunt Jane when the Redcoats are informed that they are a rebel household. Jackson and his aunt watch as the British broke every one of her dishes and broke every leg on her furniture. But when the officer commanded Jackson to wipe the mud from his boots, the youth refused. The officer's reply was swift – he raised his sword to slash it down on Jackson's head. The boy raised his arm to deflect the blow, suffering a deep wound to his hand, yet still receiving a swipe to the face that would leave a scar. However, in the country of occupiers, Jane's home was not burnt, she was not raped, and Andrew would live on to fight again with hatred of the British seared into his scars.
Because the author's intended audience is young adults, she will occasionally include a definition unnecessary for adults, but sometimes her writing is simply perplexing, as ,”Weatherford led that attack on the massacre on the settlement,...”(72) which could be interpreted in opposite ways, and the rest of the sentence is even more confusing. Or “At this time [the election of 1828], a candidate had to win the majority of electoral votes,...”(98) As it is still the case that a candidate must win the majority of electoral votes, her writing here is again confusing. Similarly, when discussing Jackson's problems with his Cabinet, she includes a Fast Fact telling that the President appoints the cabinet and meets with the leaders of various departments, and they consist of the “heads of ...Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security,...”(106) As none of these positions existed during the Jackson Presidency, why not simply list those in Jackson's Cabinet to avoid confusion?
In her discussion of the background to the outbreak of the War of 1812 Thorne totally neglects to mention that many Americans hoped to conquer Canada with the onset of the war.(84) Thorne shows a modern blinder when she writes concerning those who were clearly very religious, like Jackson, and what she perceives as the contradiction of them being both religious and slave owners. “Slavery...raised guilty questions to men in the South, like Jackson, who considered themselves religious.”(135) While many discovered in their religion grounds to condemn slavery, Thorne seems unaware that slavery is mentioned in the Bible, never condemned by Jesus, and a runaway was urged to return to his master by Paul. Many in the South (and elsewhere) saw no contradiction between slavery and Christianity.
More troubling to the modern is Jackson's views on race. During the General's appeal for support to defend New Orleans from the British, Jackson included an appeal to the Free Men of Color (and to pirates, too). He included friendly Indians in his campaign against the hostile (Creek) Red Sticks, and was happy to receive it. But when it came to removing, even the “civilized” Indians from Georgia and Alabama westward to what would become Indian Territory (today's Oklahoma), “Jackson made his feelings very clear. He called them savage and barbaric...their governments were 'crude institutions.'”(137) Thorne quotes historian Robert Remini: “Jackson believed that Indians belonged to a lower order of humanity and that the federal government had the right to deal with them as it saw fit.”(137) Thorne concludes that Jackson “felt America and the white man were more important than people of other colors.”(146)
Strangely, Thorne does not mention the very influential Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger in her text or her bibliography. Of course, Thorne does recognize Jackson's importance in US history. Not only did he put together a rag-tag army in winter 1814-15 that would defeat overwhelmingly the British veterans of the Napoleonic wars, but the British outnumbered his forces 3 to 1. Yet, the British casualties were catastrophic, and included their commander, General Edward Pakenham. With the British failure to capture New Orleans, their empire lost all hope of wresting New Orleans from the US, of blocking American expansion to the Mississippi River and beyond, and of promoting further Indian resistance to American settlement and growth. Thus Jackson's victory allowed the natural thrust of American progress to swell over the mountains down the rivers and valleys and solidify. Moreover, Jackson's exploits in Florida crushed Indian resistance there and halted Anglo-Spanish schemes to disrupt the American south and southwest expansion.
Rightly hailed as a hero after his New Orleans victory, Jackson would enter national politics. One may find that Schlesinger exaggerated when he portrayed Jackson's Presidency as the New Deal of the 19th century, but Thorne conceded he ended the era of the aristocratic Virginia dynasties.(95) Jackson roused many more Americans to enter the electorate and essentially re-create a sector of Jefferson's Democratic Republican Party as the Democratic Party. While his personality and policies were popular with a majority of the people, there were some who detested him, calling him tyrant and king. While President, a sailor slapped Jackson, and another man shot a pistol at him, but it misfired.(121)
Jackson not only created the modern Democratic Party, with his position on forced Indian resettlement and being a slave owner, it was clear he viewed America basically as a white man's country and the Democratic Party as the party of the white race. That seemed so evident that decades later, in the election of 1868, the Democrats' official campaign song included lyrics: “We are the white man's party.”
For decades Democrats honored their founders with Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners – speeches and fundraisers. These were major annual events held throughout the country. But as “anti-racism,” and later, “anti-whitism,” became centerpieces of the post-1960s progressive Democratic Party, both Jefferson and Jackson have been lambasted as slave owners. Both are now deemed as embarrassments to many of the new Democratic Party leadership.
Finally, there is one episode that should have been included in this book. In 1840 Jackson returned to New Orleans for the 25th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, and laid a corner stone for a monument. Jackson died in 1845, and in 1851 Place d'Armes was renamed Jackson Square. In 1856 an equestrian statue of Jackson was placed at the center of the Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter. Several identical statues were created. However, I am convinced that the photograph of the Jackson statue in Thorne's book (133) is NOT the one in New Orleans. Moreover, during the Civil War, the Confederates were far less successful in defending New Orleans than had been Jackson, and early in the war, April 1862, the largest city of the Confederacy fell to the Union naval forces under Southern-born David Farragut. The city was occupied by Yankees, and many ladies, to show their disapproval, spit on the Union soldiers. The Yankee general in charge of the Union occupation, Benjamin Butler, then issued an order that any ladies who insulted his troops were to be treated as women of the streets (prostitutes). Reaction was swift. The author of the order was now called “Beast” Butler, vilified throughout the South and in Europe. He had also forced ships coming upriver to wait to insure they were not carrying yellow fever, and there was no epidemic during Butler's reign. Modifying them only slightly, he also added a few words by Jackson to the base of the statue in Jackson Square. During the 1830s, when John Calhoun favored nullification and there was talk of secession of states from the Union, Jackson, slave owner, strongly opposed the dissolution of the nation. And said so. His words were added to the statue during the Yankee occupation to annoy the rebels - “The Union must and shall be preserved.” (Today, the Left wing in New Orleans seeks to remove the Jackson statue.)
For a short book Thorne was able to discuss complex issues like Jackson's hostility toward the National Bank; his preference for state banks, maneuvers by politicians on both sides and the national economic consequences. Thorne explains these difficult concepts simply. She is good at condensing many topics about the growing nation during the Jackson era. One she might have elaborated – what happened to the sailor who slapped the President or to the man who tried to shoot him.
Overall, Thorne has written a short, general appraisal of why Andrew Jackson does indeed deserve to be included in this series of people who changed the course of history.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
ANDREW JACKSON AND THE MIRACLE OF NEW oRLEANS
(New York: Random House Large Print Ed., c 2017)
BY BRIAN KILMEADE and DON YAEGER
Review by Hugh Murray
As New Orleans celebrates its 300thanniversary, and the 202nd year after Andrew Jackson saved the Crescent City from the British invaders, this book is a welcome fresh breath of history and a portrait of a hero who inspired his compatriots to fend off a larger force composed of veterans who had defeated the military genius, Napoleon. This book is even more welcome today as mobs in New Orleans have demanded the removal of Jackson's statue from Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Meanwhile a politically correct, Democratic mayor, Mitch Landrieu, has already approved the removal of the General Robt. E. Lee statue from Lee Circle and the removal of other statues of military figures like Gen. P. T. G. Beauregard.
Just as Mao's Cultural Revolution in China sought to destroy the history, traditions, and memories of the past – purging libraries, temples, schools, and universities of priceless articles; indeed closing schools, sending pupils to the countryside to be “educated” by the partisan peasantry, sending teachers and professors in dunce caps to be humiliated, beaten, and sometimes killed by the thought police of the Red Guard. The same destructive impulse occurs now in America, and the media is as complicit here as it was in Mao's Red Guard China. The elementary school I attended as a child was named for the first Jew to serve in the US Senate – Judah P. Benjamin. (A Floridian might make that claim, but Sen. David Yulee had converted to Christianity.) Later, Benjamin also served various posts in the Cabinet of Pres. Jefferson Davis – the first Jew in any American Cabinet. But, as some called him “the brains of the Confederacy,” the name of the school I attended had to be changed. After 8th grade, I went for one year to Beauregard Junior High, named for the commander who ordered the firing by Southern troops on the Union held Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor, thus beginning what most see as the first shot in the American Civil War. I attended Beauregard for one year, and many would assert that in doing so I was exerting my “white privilege.” Perhaps those critics are right, for attending that school at the same time was another teen who would become known throughout the world, another example of white privilege, Lee Harvey Oswald. Though the building still exists, there is no longer a Beauregard School in New Orleans, and his statue, at the entrance of City Park, has disappeared by order of Mayor (or is it Mao) Landrieu.
Christopher Columbus was revered as a great hero at the anniversary of his most important voyage, celebrated in 1892, but by the 500th anniversary in 1992 he was maligned as an embarrassment, a villain, imperialist, colonialist, racist, and genocidal exemplar of white male privilege. A man once so honored that the capital of Ohio was named for him, as was even the American capital, Washington, District of Columbia! To those who defend Columbus by maintaining, without Columbus, there would be no America, the politically correct retort is: “Precisely.” They despise Columbus BEAUSE they hate America and all it stands for. And so too George Washington, the “father of his country,” now dismissed as just another slave owner. Jefferson, chief author of the Declaration of Independence, is reviled not only as a slave owner, but as one who took sexual advantage of one of his slaves. Madison, President during the War of 1812, another slave-driver, while Andrew Jackson, was worse – a slave owner, and the President responsible for the “trail of tears,” the removal of the Indians from the Southeast. Jackson even removed the 'civilized' Indians. They were so civilized they owned slaves. After their removal to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), during the American Civil War, many of the Indians chose to fight for the Confederacy.
When I was young the Democratic Party would have annual fund-raising dinners named Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners. The Democrats honored a founder and “re-founder” of their party. Today, many Democratic leaders are ashamed of both Jefferson and Jackson. So it is in this period of political correctness and Red Guard destruction, that we can all appreciate the courage of writers like Kilmeade and Yaeger in resurrecting the heroic struggle of Andrew Jackson to save New Orleans from the British invaders.
Kilmeade/Yaeger describe an encounter with British occupying forces when Jackson was a teenager. Tories informed the British of the rebel sympathies of his aunt and her relatives. At one point, an officer ordered the rebel youth to clean the mud from the Briton's boots. Jackson refused. The officer drew his sword, aiming to crash it down on the teen's head. Jackson raised his arm to deflect the blow, which cut his hand deeply, and still got through to leave a scar on his head. Jackson's brother and mother would soon die in events that Jackson related to this British raid, and consequently the youth retained a fiery hatred for the British.
Jackson was scrappy, a young man of the new American southwest. He learned law by clerking, but he was like Burr and Hamilton, willing to duel for his honor. He clearly held a macho ideal. When he heard of an Indian raid (the Red Sticks) in 1813 that wiped out over 200 settlers at Ft. Mims, Alabama near Mobile, Jackson was determined on revenge. He also suspected the British were supplying weapons to the Indians in order to promote attacks upon the Americans. After Jackson and his men decisively defeated the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend later that year, the Indian leader, William Weatherford, who was half Creek Indian and half Scottish, came alone to Jackson and offered his services as a defeated warrior. Jackson helped him.
When after years of British provocations, Pres. Madison and the Democratic-Republicans finally declared war on Britain in 1812, Jackson was delighted and volunteered his services. Unfortunately, the incompetent War Department generally ignored Jackson's pleas on the need to defend New Orleans, the linchpin of the future of the American West. During the War of 1812 the Americans attempted to invade and conquer Canada, and failed in 1812-13, and in 1814 the British raided the east coast, burning the American capital in Washington and nearly capturing Baltimore. In 1814 in Belgium, peace talks had begun, but there were clauses implying that whoever conquered territory at the end of the war might be able to retain it.
The British sent an expedition of thousands led by Admiral Alexander Cochrane, and General Edward Pakenham, who had won a fine reputation in battles against Napoleon and his allies in Spain and France, and who was hailed as “the hero of Salamanca.” He was also a brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington (and Pakenham was to become governor of New Orleans, once he had taken the city).
Kilmeade's book includes over half dozen maps to follow the course of the invadsion. Meanwhile, Jackson scrambled to raise a motley crew of US regular army men, Tennessee and Kentucky Volunteers, Free People of Color from Louisiana, Jean Lafitte and his pirates, men of New Orleans society, and any others who might be recruited. Slaves were inducted to dig the trenches to defend the main line at Rodriguez Canal against possible British assault.
The British outnumbered the Americans by at least 3 to 1. Moreover, some of these same British troops had helped defeat the mighty Napoleon. By contrast, the American militia had utterly failed to defend the nation's capital in 1814, and Jackson's impromptu aggregate might run away at the first shot. But they did not. While the statistics may be only approximate, the Americans lost between a dozen and 300; the British between 1,000 and 3,000, including Gen Pakenham himself. Not only was New Orleans saved, but the British would no longer be able to supply Indians with weapons, or promote intrigue to sever Louisiana and the lands west of the Mississippi to a greater Spanish empire in North America or some other anti-American schemes. America would continue to hold the crucial port of New Orleans and new American settlers could continue to pour across the mountains, selling their goods down the Mississippi, and the American republic could continue to expand and fill the continent.
The man most responsible for this victory was Andrew Jackson. This book reminds us of what a hero he was. And if it were so easy to defend New Orleans, why did New Orleans fall so quickly to the Yankees during the Civil War? Early in the Civil War Naval Line Officer James Farragut captured New Orleans, the largest city in the Confederacy, in April 1862. Farragut was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, and resided in Virginia, but he chose to remain on the side of the Americans with the outbreak of war. After the capture of New Orleans, Yankee ships could travel up the Mississippi on longer missions. Later Farragut would become an admiral in the US Navy. The authors should have contrasted the determined and successful defense of New Orleans by Jackson with the Confederacy's loss both of its largest city and of control over the lower Mississippi to the Union invaders.
When New Orleans women gave icy welcomes to the occupying Yankee troops, preferring to spit on them, New Englander Union Gen. Benjamin Butler issued an order that such ladies were to be treated as women of the street (as prostitutes), which caused an international outburst concerning the oppressive Yankee regime. Butler responded with something else to anger the Confederates. Onto the base of the famous statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, Butler had a few words of Jackson inscribed, modifying them only slightly. Jackson was a slave owner, but in the conflict over nullification in the 1830s, Jackson defied Calhoun and the pro-secession theoreticians: “The Union must and shall be preserved.” These words Butler added that to the base of the statue, and now the Left demands the removal of the statue from Jackson Square!
As America now demotes, denigrates, and dismisses its real heroes, it has begun to replace them with a new set, a set that cannot be easily judged as politically incorrect. The Super heroes of comics and films are no longer really “American heroes.” The movies that tell their stories are shown, not only in America, but round the world, and with China's huge market, the villains can no longer be Chinese. The super heroes no longer illustrate American values, but global values. These fictional heroes are “safe.” No one will discover that they were once slave owners. No one will uncover that they once said something bad about an Amerindian, or bullied a gay, or mocked an Asian's accent, or grabbed a woman, or kissed a man, or tweeted that the only good Martian was a dead Martian. The new super heroes are safe and fun and can appeal to the world. But Jackson is a real hero, a man who said and did things that will NOT appeal to everyone, a man who had faults, a man who was flawed, a man who was human; a hero who was a man. Yes, Jackson was a real hero, who was able to defeat some from the greatest army of his time and save the area west of the Mississippi and New Orleans for the great American experiment in republican government.