Can the man whose life work was to tear from the Declaration of Independence its immortal part, its very soul, “That government derives their just powers from the consent of the governed,” be the American ideal, if the truth is looked full in the face?
Manly’s Battery Chapter
Children of the ConfederacyRaleigh, North Carolina (pages 21-23)
Emancipation at the time, and in the manner in which Lincoln sought
to enforce it, was a politico-military measure, and nothing else. 1862 was an
election year. Lincoln, great man and statesman as he undoubtedly was,
was also a politician to the core. And when did your politician, big or
little, ever fail to trim his sails to the wind—to save the party and then
let the party save everything else? Federal arms had sustained such repeated
and disastrous defeats that Northern opinion was turning to the
Democratic Party, which favored peace. Defeat stared Republicanism
in the face. Something must be done to stem the tide. The emancipation
proclamation was the answer. While primarily a political move,
great things were also expected of it in a military way. It was largely
believed that the slaves would rise and deal with Southern women in a
way that would cause the Southern armies to crumble in a day as each
man rushed home to save his own.
As a military measure it was a total fiasco of the ages as not a slave stirred
or lifted his hand. But its political effect was immense. It instantly
brought into the Republican camp every cohort of abolitionism, and
held all in line to the end, though these lines bent fearfully under Jackson's
blows at Chancellorsville, and again, when soon after the grey
columns surged northward to Gettysburg, and even when, much later
still, Grant's army recoiled in temporary paralysis from the futile assaults
on Lee in the Wilderness.
Still, this is not an attack on Lincoln, nor do I set to revive sectionalism,
further than consistancy and self-respect demand. I am well
aware that patriotism is a matter of geography. That all depends upon
the side of the line on which you were born, but so, also, is renegadeism.
High moral law demands that we be true to our fellows, our surroundings.
The Washingtons and Lees obeyed it. The Arnolds and Tscariots
defied it. This is simply an earnest protest against accepting as a
Southern hero, a Southern exemplar, a man, no matter how worthy personally,
who was a leader of Northernism, and of Northernism in its
attitude -of implacable hostility to the South and Southern ideals. It
is natural that the Negro should honor Lincoln. He gave the Negro
freedom. And the North, he gave the North dominion over the South.
He carried out Northern ideals of centralism, imperialism. The Southern
Ideal, State rights, home rule, the palladium the world over of the
weak, met destruction at his hands. With glaring inconsistency, we still
hold the ideal to be true, while paying homage to the chief instrument of
''Suppose the South had won? What then?" is the common query,
usually in tones of utter deprecation. I would reply that had the South
lost; what then? The blackest page in the annals of our race! Would
the Lees, the Davises, the Hamptons, the Vances, the Grahams, the
Ashes, the Grimeses, the Clarks, the Jarvises, the Hills, the Carrs, the
Ransoms, the Averys, have been less fit to deal with even the tremendous
issues left by war than the Sewards, the Wades, the Stevenses, the
Holdens, the Tourgees, the Deweeses, the Cuffees, who fumbled them till,
with an effort that paralyzed all other endeavors for a generation, we
wrenched the helm from their hand.
The War of 1861, notwithstanding the unfortunate slavery complication,
was as much a war of liberty as that of 1775, or that of 1642
in the Mother country. It was a struggle for local self-government
against centralism and all the evils that have skulked in its shadow,
monopoly, trusts, extortion in its protean guises. A quicker exploitation
of our resources—and a quicker destruction—has undoubtedly ensued.
But where has the wealth gone? Would not those resources be
safer in the hands of nature than in the hands that now hold and use
them as a lever to oppress and extort?
The war, waged for State rights, for local self-government, the principle
for which the flower of our manhood laid down their lives, was
the half-conscious effort of our branch of the race—the branch that
events have proven to have had the keenest political instincts of all—to
avert this torrent of evils; some then plainly disclosed to our clear vision,
some even now just emerging from the haze of the days to be.
Then circumstances and heredity had made the South the citadel of
conservatism. What a brake on the wild wheels of this mad world
her conservatism must have been could it only have won the prestige of
success, had it only been its luck to be backed by the stronger battalions
of heavier guns! In all human probability it would have saved us from
many of the evils above indicated, as well as the maze of fads, follies,
and isms in which we now grope in such utter bewilderment.
Even Southern writers have to stultify themselves every time they
approach the subject as to what might have been if the victory had
been accorded to us instead of our foes.
Loud in praise of the statesmanship of the old South, strong in the
belief of the justice of her cause; yet no sooner do they reach the point
where the stronger battalions of the North prevail than they drop on
their knees and thank Heaven for having saved the South from herself.
They thank Providence that instead of giving the South a respite
from Northern incendiarism, instead of smoothing her way so that she
might put by slavery in the least harmful manner, it brought down upon
her three millions of armed men, who, destroying the flower of her manhood,
breaking the heart of her womanhood, consigning her children
to poverty and ignorance, reducing her people to virtual beggars, and
would have forced miscegenation , mongrelism, upon her but for the mettle
of her stock! Others may think as they will, but I cannot bring myself
to hold any such slanderous opinions of Providence. I cannot see the
hand of Providence (though 1 might a sootier one) in such fell work as,
on the one hand suffering Northern abolition, incendiarism, to arouse and
inflame the resentment of the South, and, on the other hand Northern
ingenuity to invent the cotton gin, thus at the critical moment infinitely
increasing the value of slaves, and forestalling the South in her earnest
endeavors to put an end to slavery. That the South was denied the inestimable
privilege of abolishing this curse which the cruel hand of Fate
had fastened upon her, thus saving herself the unspeakable loss and woe
and humiliation that the war entailed, is no proof that the Southern
way was the wrong way. Success is no proof of right, nor failure of
wrong. Yet men whose very religion is founded on faith in One who
from the low viewpoint of material things sounded the abysmal depths
of failure, now cry aloud that it is. The vessel of iron will ever smash
the one of gold against which in the rough mischances of the world it
is thrown, though the latter, from the fineness of its material and the
nobleness of its design, might be fit to edify mankind forever.
0. W. Blacknall
Kittrell N. C, January, 1915.
(In regard to race and segregation, I would add that the question was extensively
Discussed at the North in the early part of the war, and Florida
suggested as the State to be thus utilized when the South should be subjugated.
This being considered too small, Texas was proposed.)