Palm Sunday 1865

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between North and South.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox.

Near death as he finished his memoirs, Grant wrote this passage which sums up what he and Lee helped to accomplish:

I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”  A striking indication that Grant’s words were coming true occurred shortly after he wrote them.  At his funeral his pallbearers were Union generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Phil Sheridan and Confederate generals Joseph Johnston and Simon Bolivar Buckner.  Union and Confederate officers rode together in carriages in Grant’s funeral procession.  The day was August 8, 1885.  What Grant and Lee planted 20 years ago was beginning to bear fruit.

40 Responses to Palm Sunday 1865

  1. Elaine Krewer says:

    “the usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.”

    You must have read “April 1865: The Month that Saved America” by Jay Winlik, which makes that point very compellingly. Of course Lincoln’s assassination less than a week later (on Good Friday) could easily have been the match needed to light the tinderbox of “unremitting vengeance,” but again, Grant, Lee, and others helped prevent that from happening.

    Winlik points out that guerilla war conditions actually existed in Missouri and Kansas for a number of years. It got to the point where one could not tell friend from enemy and you could be harassed, assaulted or killed simply for associating with the “wrong” people. (I wonder if, maybe, that is the REAL reason Missouri came to be called the Show Me State?)

    Plus, micro-scale warfare between families, and other groups who had been on opposite sides persisted in border states for many years afterward, the most famous example being the Hatfield-McCoy feud in Kentucky. Toss in the formation of the Ku Klux Klan and Southern resentment of Reconstruction and it really is a miracle the South didn’t become another Bosnia or Chechnya.

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Winlik points out that guerilla war conditions actually existed in Missouri and Kansas for a number of years.”

    Quite right Elaine. That is how a worthless murderer and bandit like Jesse James became a folk hero in portions of Missouri sympathetic to the Confederacy. As for bleeding Kansas, the Civil War began there in 1854 and violence along the Kanasas Missouri border kept going into the early years of the 1870s.

  3. Tito Edwards says:

    The Kansas-Missouri conflict was already bloody prior to the beginning of the Civil War or even secession.

    My ancestors fought for the South and were from Missouri. I can attest to the stories brought down how dirty the Kansas-Missouri Conflict was, granted with Missouri sympathies which I won’t repeat here.

    Needless to say my ancestors ceased hostilities at the end of the war and left Quantril’s Raiders and bushwhacking to the the evil James Gang.

  4. Elise B. says:

    Another instance of an unusual course following war was the reconciliation process by Charles de Gaulle, Alcide De Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer immediately after World War II. All three were Catholics.

  5. American Knight says:

    Resident Confederate here. It is testimony to the Christian culture (Protestant as it was) and the actions of gentlemen who sought honor before glory. Of course, my fellow Virginian was more of a gentlemen; however, Grant did well enough despite his alcoholic affliction. The Union army was given orders to allow the Confederates to go home with their weapons, because there was no fear of an insurgency. Men of honor were not going to fight once the official conflict was over. Nevertheless, some Confederates were wary of reports of surrender – knowing that Lee was not the kind of general that would stand down lightly. The last Confederate to surrender was General Stand Watie (Cherokee name De-ga-ta-ga – “he stands”), which occurred on June 23.

    Nevertheless, there were elements on both sides of the Mason-Dixon that sowed the seeds of discourse. The anti-Catholic, anti-American KKK became one of those; although it was initially just a means for Southern men to congregate because their Constitutionally guaranteed right to free assembly was not permitted by the military occupation of Southern lands, known to you liberal Northerners as Reconstruction. It was an occupation and infiltration of the South by scalawags, carpetbaggers and an illegal military presence – considering Lincoln allegedly fought for Union; how can you quarter troops on American soil? The posse comitatus act was passed precisely because of the abuse by personel in the military occupation following the war. Clearly the intent here was to punish the Southern States for exercising their right to leave the federal compact when they felt the rights of their citizens were being threatened by the federal government(leave aside the obvious hypocrisy of denying those rights to negro slaves for a moment as that is a separate issue).

    You cannot have it both ways – either the Southern States are sovereign and have a right to break a voluntary compact or they are a foreign bunch of rebels who have no rights as Americans.

    The hypocrisy of the Union to invade the South assuming they were just rebels, in complete disregard for the voluntary nature of the Constitution, and then to occupy that same country as a foreign power is precisely the same mentality that had this current Congress enact an illegal law despite the protestations of over 65% of the American people (including the authentic Catholic leadership) and most of the sovereign states in the Union.

    Just to be clear, I am pro-union. As a Catholic before I am a Southerner, I am aware that a house divided itself cannot stand. I am also aware of the principle of subsidiarity embodied in our (formerly) federal structure. Each state is sovereign and voluntarily a member of the Union. No doubt the fact that transnational banking interests and European powers intended to divide the USA for their own nefarious purposes is another important item to note for my pro-union views. We cannot neglect the fact that the outcome of the war, although good for union was a terrible blow to federalism (subsidiarity) and the security of people to be free from secular government interfering with God-given rights.

    Lessons we can learn from Lee’s surrender is that he soon regretted it and would have preferred to die with his sword in hand if he had known that government scoundrels would abuse his graciousness and assault his countrymen. The current attack by statist forces on the American people and the states is unacceptable – we have to pray that we can recover from this through legal means, for violent conflict, even though necessary at times, may end this country and that would be a terrible blow to the world and to the cause of human freedom.

    Of course, the solution to our problem is not merely natural, for the cause of our problem is preternatural and rooted in sin. We need a holy healing in order to restore this country to her rightful place. That is never going to happen so long as we kill babies under the false cover of law.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “You cannot have it both ways – either the Southern States are sovereign and have a right to break a voluntary compact or they are a foreign bunch of rebels who have no rights as Americans.”

    No, they were citizens of the United States of America at all times. Rebels they were but US citizens nonetheless. As to the question of secession, I will defer on the constitutional issue to Robert E. Lee:

    “I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution…”

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/lee-on-secession/

  7. American Knight says:

    Mr. McClarey, I agree with you and with General Lee. The Union is to be perpetual; however, that does not change the fact that the Constitution is a compact. We aren’t Muslims, we do not approach the Constitution from a once you are in, you are always in outlook. It is always a voluntary yet perpetual union. It is only a legitimate union when it has the consent of the governed.

    Furthermore, the assertion that Virginians were American citizens yet rebels is flawed – at that time there was no such thing as an American citizen – that nationality did not exist until the 14th amendment to the Constitution was enacted. At the time of the War for Southern Independence the people who dwelt in these united states were citizens of their state or commonwealth of residence and the state or commonwealth was a member state in the United States. This was intended to ensure the sovereignty of the various states. That is not to say that sovereignty was absolute – it was limited by the powers given from the people to the states and from there to the federal government. Those powers were not broad and in truth are not much broader now, although liberal interpretation has the national government with absolute power and the states are viewed as nothing more than provinces and we are merely subjects. This has to stop.

    The Confederacy did not secede to become anarchic, the Southern states left the federal compact in order to form a new compact that was truly federal as they felt, rightly in my opinion, that their sovereignty was being threatened. Sure, the CSA had numerous of its own abuses, not the least of which was African Negro slavery, yet on the principle of state sovereignty they were correct in principle if not in action. The devil is a wily SOB and ensured that the slavery issue would forever mar the discussion of states’ rights. As Catholics, we are expected to see beyond the vagaries of human intercourse to the truth of the matter. The truth is that state sovereignty, within strict constructionist, Constitutional boundaries respects the principle of subsidiarity.

    If Gen. Lee and even President Davis felt that the South was leaving the federal compact in order to devolve into anarchy, I seriously doubt that either man would have resigned his duty and it is likely that the Army of the Potomac would have had as its general, General Lee. What a different outcome that would have been.

    Secession is not ever to be taken lightly – I am sure that Thomas Jefferson did not take it lightly when he penned the Declaration of Independence and neither did Gen. Lee when he left his post to become the General of the Army of Northern Virginia.

    We are not at the point of secession yet – but we may get there. What we cannot do is fall for the trap that the Enemy has set for us to break the USA apart. We need a restoration and not a revolution. The AGs of several states and my commonwealth (our AG is a devout Catholic and a patriotic American) are taking this battle to the right place – our court system. However, can we honestly say that the progressive agenda is in favor of the rule of law? Clearly they are driven by power and not justice. That twisted sentiment may lead to an unjust outcome and the end of the USA one way or another – whether it be a quiet whimper or a fierce battle is unclear. Yet, we have to keep hope that we can prevail through established channels. I believe we will, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

    The progressive agenda is always based on violence, deceit and the cult of personality. The first liberal progressive rebel established the pattern and it has not changed. It is just hard to see, even though our Church teaches us that this is inevitable as history unfolds, but she is never clear as to when because our Judge will return when we do not expect Him (which is why we should always expect Him). Unless America is referred to as Babylon in the Apocalypse then we may well disappear long before He returns.

    Nevertheless, I think that the true spirit of the honorable men and women of this great land, exemplified by Gens. Lee and Grant will prevail. We will restore our Republic and it will be a long, long time before she falls. The Old Republic of Rome survived the fierce battle between the populares and the optimates for a long while before succumbing to libido dominandi and declaring Caesar as god. I don’t know Julius Caesar and he wasn’t a friend of mine, but Obama is no Julius Caesar. He may be a Robespierre though.

    Sic Semper Tyranus.

  8. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “It is only a legitimate union when it has the consent of the governed.”

    Which it had in 1861. A clear majority of the American people did not want the Union divided into two nations.

    “Furthermore, the assertion that Virginians were American citizens yet rebels is flawed – at that time there was no such thing as an American citizen – that nationality did not exist until the 14th amendment to the Constitution was enacted.”

    Actually the Constitution created citizenship of the United States: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” Passports were issued by the United States government to United States citizens prior to the Civil War and were not issued by the States.

    “The truth is that state sovereignty, within strict constructionist, Constitutional boundaries respects the principle of subsidiarity.”

    No, as in most questions not religious in nature, Catholic doctrine has precious little to tell us about secession or state sovereignty. As in most political questions, the Church leaves its members free to determine those questions on their own. The United States Constitution was silent on the question of secession, and James Madison, the father of the Constituion was opposed to secession when the issue of secession came up during the nullification crisis.

    “We are not at the point of secession yet – but we may get there.”

    I would imagine that the 650,000 dead in our first Civil War would mitigate against such an “experiment in rebellion” being attempted again. Certainly nothing done thus far by the Obama administration justifies any such talk, and I say that as an ardent opponent of this administration.

    “The AGs of several states and my commonwealth (our AG is a devout Catholic and a patriotic American) are taking this battle to the right place – our court system.”

    Agreed.

    “We will restore our Republic and it will be a long, long time before she falls.”

    Amen!

  9. American Knight says:

    McClarey, I like you, even though you are a Yankee. These discussions are always informative. I am not an attorney and express no expertise when it comes to matters of law.

    As a layman, I see the statement, a Citizen of the United States (Art. 2, Sec. 1 – which you referenced) to mean a Citizen of [any one of the] United States.

    As for the principle of subsidiarity – I know it is not part of our secular Constitution; however, as a Catholic, I view my country through the eyes of the Church, for I am only a pilgrim here. By the Grace of God, you and I will be citizens of Heaven – in secula seculorum. That being said, the truth of our faith can be discerned by all men of good will, even if the technical terms are not used. I believe our Founding Fathers noticed this, even though they had little love for Holy Mother Church.

    I know we could just as easily be good citizens in another country, or in this country if she falls into the abyss. Yet, you and I and most on this blog will say with St. Thomas More, I am a good American servant, but I am God’s first. I do not promote, nor do I wish to use secession as a threat – yet, given being part of a Socialist [and probably eugenicist] United States and secession as two extreme options – I choose secession.

    The problem that I have with, “nothing done thus far . . .” is that when it is done, it is too late. By their fruits ye shall know them. The fruits of this administration have been nothing but horrible. Progressives always approach with incrementalism until a tipping point is reached and then inertia does the rest. Many Germans said the Fuhrer has done nothing thus far. . . and look where that got us. Russians said the same about Stalin. Chinese and Mao. French and Jacobins and so on and so on. I am not advocating any extreme reaction, but a cautious and firm stand is required.

    The South may have jumped the gun and seceded when it was not absolutely necessary, but judging by the reaction it would have likely become justified eventually – had they waited the spark may have been something other than African slavery – perhaps it would have been those nifty nineteenth century liberal (progressive) ideas.

  10. Jeff Stone says:

    Just exactly what part of Military Occupation and Reconstruction was not “unremitting vengeance by the victors” ?

    Is this the crap that government schools teach ?

    Robert E. Lee was a good and gracious man. His inability to attack Federal encampments and take a very easy win at Washington, D.C. because he believed the war to about Southern Sovereignty proved his noble desires, but it did not allay any Northern hatred for the Southern desire to be free.

    Grant was a drunk with no regard for civilian well-being who not only allowed but commended Sherman and others to destroy the South.

    It was in no way a “Civil War” !

    There was no effort by the South to overtake the Federal Government. The South preferred separation. The North preferred war to stop separation. It can only be properly called a War Of Southern Independence or a War Of Northern Aggression.

  11. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “As a layman, I see the statement, a Citizen of the United States (Art. 2, Sec. 1 – which you referenced) to mean a Citizen of [any one of the] United States.”

    And as a layman you would be wrong on that point, especially since the United States, rather than the individual states, determined the laws governing naturalization of foreign citizens as the Congress of the United States did in the 1790s.

    “That being said, the truth of our faith can be discerned by all men of good will, even if the technical terms are not used.”

    One would like to think that, but history amply refutes that statement.

    “I do not promote, nor do I wish to use secession as a threat – yet, given being part of a Socialist [and probably eugenicist] United States and secession as two extreme options – I choose secession.”

    Since secession is merely revolution, as Robert E. Lee noted, I believe it should always be left as the very last resort. Nothing done by this current government comes close to justifying the misery and devastation of such a course.

    “The problem that I have with, “nothing done thus far . . .” is that when it is done, it is too late.”

    Rubbish, as the outcome of the American Revolution illustrates.

    “The South may have jumped the gun and seceded when it was not absolutely necessary, but judging by the reaction it would have likely become justified eventually – had they waited the spark may have been something other than African slavery – perhaps it would have been those nifty nineteenth century liberal (progressive) ideas.”

    Which actually were supported by many Southerners including the Georgian Woodrow Wilson. Eugenics had fans south of the Mason-Dixon line as well as north for example. Many Southern politicians fully embraced the progressive agenda. As to the Civil War, it was all about slavery, as Nathan Bedford Forrest pungently observed on one occasion after the war.

  12. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Just exactly what part of Military Occupation and Reconstruction was not “unremitting vengeance by the victors” ?

    Is this the crap that government schools teach ?”

    Unremitting vengeance, for example, would be the mass executions of the defeated as occurred in Franco’s Spain after the Spanish Civil War. It could also involve keeping the Southern states permanently under military occupation. It would not involve a noble if unsuccessful effort to make certain that black citizens of the United States in the former Confederate States would not be effectively disenfranchised for a century after the war. Within a dozen years after the Civil War, the white southerners who fought the Civil War were firmly back in control of the states of the old Confederacy. That is an example of not having a spirit of unremitting vengeance.

    “His inability to attack Federal encampments and take a very easy win at Washington, D.C. because he believed the war to about Southern Sovereignty proved his noble desires, but it did not allay any Northern hatred for the Southern desire to be free.”

    That is a hoot. Lee lacked the ability to take Washington DC not the desire to do so, as his offensives into the Union in 1862 and 1863 clearly indicate. As to the Southern desire to be free, white Southerners were clearly free prior to 1861. The question was whether black Southerners would eventually be free. That was the question which caused the Civil War, and the great issue, along with the preservation of the Union, resolved by the outcome of the Civil War.

    “Grant was a drunk with no regard for civilian well-being who not only allowed but commended Sherman and others to destroy the South.”

    Grant was a superb General who defeated one of the Great Captains of history, Robert E. Lee, or perhaps you are suggesting that Marse Robert was beaten by a worthless drunk? As to Sherman, both Grant and Sherman court-martialed and hung Union soldiers convicted of crimes against Southern civilians. As for the appropriation of civilian property to feed their armies, that was a policy followed by both Union and Confederate armies, with the difference that Union receipts for the property could actually be redeemed in money that was worth something. The destruction of civilian property was something done by Union and Confederate forces on enemy territory, although I do not recall any Union commanders threatening to burn an enemy town unless a ransom was paid as occurred with Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

    http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=730

    “The South preferred separation. The North preferred war to stop separation.”

    It was one country. If the Confederates had wished to secede, the proper way to have gone about it was to appear in Congress in 1861 and propose a bill to allow the Southern states to secede. If the whole secessionist movement had gone about it that way, I am not convinced that they might not have ultimately succeeded, especially considering all the “Let the erring sisters go” sentiment in the North. Until Lincoln won re-election in 1864 no President had served two terms since Jackson. With a new President in 1864, a peaceful secessionist movement might have met with success. One of the more intriguing might-have-beens in American history.

  13. Dale Price says:

    Fascinating and gentlemanly discussion, AK and Donald. Bravo to you both.

    As a related aside, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain had a deep hatred of the phrase “War Between The States,” arguing rather eloquently that States did not spring into existence like Athena from the brow of Zeus, but rather were the product of a cooperative national effort of expansion, funding, organization and collective assent to Statehood. Thus, states are in that sense creatures of the Nation and cannot leave of their own will. I’ll try to dig up the quote later.

    I think that works well as an argument for every state from 14 to 50, but leaves a more colorable argument for secession on behalf of a member of the original 13.

  14. Dale Price says:

    Your hypothetical begs the question of whether the American union can be legitimately compared to a marriage.

    And, in Catholic terms, a presumptively invalid one which can be dissolved at will by one of the parties thereto.

    [As an aside, this analogy reminds me of one of the arguments in favor of the “pre-tribulation rapture” of Christian believers advocated by the likes of the “Left Behind” guys. The argument is that “of course God will rapture away his Bride (the invisible body of believers), otherwise He would be an abusive husband.”

    Demonstrating rather convincingly in my mind that analogies to modern marriage are probably more limited than we think.]

  15. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “As a hypothetical, imagine a husband who has to point a gun at his wife to force her to stay with him. Sounds like he deserves to lose her, no?”

    Of course force majeure was precisely what slave holders used to keep slaves enslaved, so I guess they deserved to lose them.

    All the arguments of a right to secession were, and are, truly beside the point. Without such a right spelled out in the Constitution, and assuming the North was unwilling to consent to the division of the Union, the only way that such a division would be carried out was through war.

  16. American Knight says:

    Donald, again I have no legal expertise, it seems to me that a logical and practical power for the federal government is securing the borders of the various states when they border lands that are not members of the federal compact. Seaports, airports, the border with the drug-cartel controlled country to the south and of utmost importance, the northern border – those pesky Canadians keep coming here for excellent medical care (oh, wait, the national government may have just solved that problem ;))

    This would include vetting foreigners who wish to become citizens. Having the federal government determine who can and cannot enter within the exterior borders of the confederation does not imply they have the right to undermine state sovereignty in other matters, which includes demanding citizenship of the nation instead of accepting the citizenship of individuals to their state or commonwealth.

    Donald, the national (used to be federal) government has done plenty to warrant the angst of the states and the people; however, secession is not the answer, at least not yet. We still have enough of the Constitution and more importantly the spirit of that same in our hearts to restore the rule of law as intended by the Founders without secession or violence – but time is quickly running out.

    To state that secession must be used as a last resort is true and I agree, but then to site the War for American Independence (we shouldn’t really call it a revolution) as evidence that we can wait until after the fact to fight for what we should be working toward now is rubbish. I did not need this illegitimate ‘health care reform’ bill to pass, nor do I need to wait and see the results over the next four or five years to be sure that nothing good will come of it.

    You cannot site the examples of fools from the South as damning the entire effort to assert sovereignty. Evil men are everywhere, even in our Holy Church – but as the old saying goes you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Sadly, Woodrow Wilson, one half of the first fascist American presidency (the other half being Edward M. House) was born a Virginian. As much as I hate to admit it, the facts are the facts. Please remember the other great and virtuous men who came from the Old Dominion.

    Stone’s point is correct. The War for Southern Independence was not a civil war. Having experienced a civil war in Lebanon when I was young I can tell you that a civil war is composed of multiple factions seeking control of one capital, one government and an entire state. Davis and Lee had no designs on Washington DC – they just wanted to be left alone. The true reason for the war, as with most wars, especially the modern wars, is money, wealth and power. Wars are started by, funded by and profited from by transnational financiers.

    The banking interests in the North wanted to penalize the South, African slavery was a part of that because it was the labor force of much of the South (immoral as that is). Odd how owning slaves was declared illegal to lend moral reason for the Northern aggression, yet, slave trading was not made illegal as Northern ports still legally engaged in transporting salves to the south – primarily Brazil. The hypocrisy of war for profit is sickening.

    It was not one country – it was and should be again one confederation of sovereign states. Diffusion of power fosters freedom, peace and stability. Concentration leads to tyranny, war and chaos.

    Price’s point is interesting. The original colonies that declared Independence from England created the confederation. So the Nation is a creature of the states and commonwealths. As for the latter states, the terms would have to be dictated as each was accepted into the compact.

    As for the marriage reference, I’d prefer to leave that analogy for Christ and His Bride, the Church. Everything else below, save for the Sacrament of Marriage, is a twisted mess.

  17. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “The War for Southern Independence was not a civil war.”

    Really? Tell that to the people of East Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware etc. There were plenty of white people in the Confederacy and in border regions of the South who fought against the Confederacy. White regiments were raised to fight for the Union in every state of the Confederacy except for South Carolina. The attitudes of most blacks towards the Confederacy was graphically demonstrated by the 180,000 blacks who enlisted to fight for the Union, most of whom were Southerners. Even just taking into account Southerners, it was a civil war.

  18. Cato says:

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”

    “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”

    “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

    -Declaration of Independence

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    U.S. Constitution Amendment IX

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

    U.S. Constitution Amendment X

  19. Nathan Ang says:

    If the Union is not comparable to a marriage, that actually supports the Confederate side. The Federals kept saying the Union was perpetual; by their words and actions they all but elevated it to a sacrament.

    But don’t take my word for it, I could be wrong you know.

  20. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The Declaration of Independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;”

    The Constitution

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    “Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation;”

    Transmittal letter from the Constitutional Convention to Congress

    SIR:

    We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.

    The friends of our country have long seen and desired that the power of making war, peace, and treaties, that of levying money, and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the General Government of the Union; but the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident: hence results the necessity of a different organization.

    It is obviously impracticable in the Federal Government of these States to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be preserved; and, on the present occasion, this difficulty was increased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.

    In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety–perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected; and thus, the Constitution which we now present is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

    That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not, perhaps, to be expected; but each will, doubtless, consider, that had her interest alone been consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that Country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

    With great respect,
    we have the honor to be,
    SIR,
    your excellency’s most obedient and humble servants:
    GEORGE WASHINGTON, President.
    By the unanimous order of the convention.

    His Excellency
    the President of Congress.

  21. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

    George Washington, Farewell Address 1790

  22. Nathan Ang says:

    The issue is clear-cut. Either the right to secede exists (the Confederate position), or it does not (the Federal position). If it does, then the Confederates were exercising their rights under natural law and the Declaration of Independence. If it does not, then Robert E. Lee and his men committed treason. And taking this position to its logical conclusion, 75% of the South’s adult white male population should have been hanged for treason.

    Further, after the Federals started targeting civilians, including such atrocities as the burning of Atlanta and the March to the Sea, the Confederates could very well have argued that they were reduced to a posture of self-defense.

  23. Centinel says:

    Funny that Virginia had no right to secede from the United States in 1861, but West Virginia had the right to secede from Virginia in 1863.

    Or that the United States had no qualms annexing Texas, less than ten years after Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836.

    And let us pat ourselves in the back for supporting South Korea and South Vietnam, which struggled valiantly not to be swallowed up by the North.

    Do not forget Taiwan, either. American support is just about the only thing stopping China from forcibly (re)taking her.

  24. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Funny that Virginia had no right to secede from the United States in 1861, but West Virginia had the right to secede from Virginia in 1863.”

    It wasn’t funny at all to Francis Harrington Pierpoint, the father of West Virginia. He and the overwhelming majority of West Virginians voted to seek admission to the Union. They of course were denounced as traitors by the Richmond government which lacked all sense of irony in this situation.

    “Or that the United States had no qualms annexing Texas, less than ten years after Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836.”

    Mexico had recognized the independence of Texas after the battle of San Jacinto, so this is comparing apples and rock salt. Also the Texans were justified in their revolt from a military dictatorship.

    “And let us pat ourselves in the back for supporting South Korea and South Vietnam, which struggled valiantly not to be swallowed up by the North.”

    More apples and rock salt. In each case South Korea and South Vietnam came into existence at the same time as their northern counterparts. I also missed the fact that the Union in 1860 was a Communist dictatorship.

    “Do not forget Taiwan, either. American support is just about the only thing stopping China from forcibly (re)taking her.”

    The final apples and rock salt comparison, unless you are contending that Lincoln was like Mao.

  25. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “And taking this position to its logical conclusion, 75% of the South’s adult white male population should have been hanged for treason.”

    Not at all. The position of Lincoln was that the Southern states had never been out of the Union and that the rebels were our countrymen at all times. He chose to, in his memorable phrase, “let them up easy” as men who had fought valiantly for what they thought was right. It was a wise and merciful policy which bore endless good fruit.

    “Further, after the Federals started targeting civilians, including such atrocities as the burning of Atlanta and the March to the Sea, the Confederates could very well have argued that they were reduced to a posture of self-defense.”

    Forced relocation of civilians and the burning of towns and cities is not uncommon in war. George Washington was given the nickname “town destroyer” by the Iroqois after Sullivan’s expedition in 1779 where, under Washington’s orders, numerous Indian towns and villages were destroyed in retaliation for raids against the Americans. Sherman burned Atlanta because he did not want it turned into a Confederate base in his rear as his Army marched to the Sea. A perfectly legitimate, although unpleasant, aspect of war. Of course similar tactics were used by the Confederates in areas they considered disloyal, such as East Tennessee which was heavily Unionist in sympathy. Sherman did not burn churches or hospitals, and ordered that no dwellings be burned. The burning he ordered was to be limited to the business and industrial sections and any Confederate property that Hood had not burned when he retreated from the city. However many civilian dwellings were burned against Sherman’s orders, mostly by civilian looters who had stayed behind to rob vacant house. About 37% of the city was destroyed. The civilian population returned within three weeks later and were well on their way to rebuilding the portions of the city destroyed before the end of the war. The burning of Atlanta was rough business, but it was not a major war atrocity.

  26. American Knight says:

    I don’t know if Sherman was a war criminal – but his command of his troops was atrocious. The War for Southern Independence is considered the first modern war and it went far beyond the battle space. Northerners, for the most part, didn’t care for Negros and merely used anti-slavery as a moral pretext for forcing the sovereign Southern states to remain in the Union. We can debate whether that was good or bad in the long run, but in the short run it was an awful way to stay ‘united’.

    Had the North done the right thing and let the South alone – it is likely that when slavery came to an end – peacefully and naturally, like it did most everywhere else – then the Negro population would have been better integrated and the North and South may have been able to reunite without eroding the vertical checks and balances of power.

    We may never know.

    As for the war being civil simply because some on both sides sympathized with the other, that is erroneous because the governments of the CSA were not interested in conquering Washington, DC and were certainly not looking to annex New York, Pennsylvania or any other Northern state. Marylanders may have preferred to be part of the CSA, especially since Maryland is south of the Mason-Dixon; however, her proximity north of the US capital made that untenable. Of course, the USA could have moved the capital back to Philadelphia or New York. It is clear that the CSA was a distinct country with a sovereign federal government, state governments, culture, geographic boundaries and everything else needed to call a people and a land a separate nation. A civil war cannot exist between two distinct nations.

    Interestingly, after the war, the banking interests and the Progressives were able to grow in power and then gave us the Federal Reserve scheme, the IRS, the 17th amendment, Ponzi schemes like Medicare and Social Security and now I hear grumblings of doing away with the electoral college (a Catholic innovation). The god-state must rule all.

    I change my vote – Lee should not have surrendered!

  27. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Just for you AK, courtesy of Uncle Billy Sherman and his boys!

  28. American Knight says:

    You carzy kids with your nifty technology. I can barely type my name, let alone post a video in a com box.

    You couldn’t have given me one J.E.B Stewart, or Stonewall Jackson – come on.

    I like the music.

    Do you think these men, who were suspicious of tin-type photos, could have ever imagined that we would be looking at them on a gizmo like this?

    I’d like to ask ’em, but I am hoping to go to Heaven where there are no Yankees. 😉

  29. Donald R. McClarey says:

    You are a good sport AK. Here is a video about another general I greatly admire from the Late Unpleasantness:

  30. American Knight says:

    🙂

    The gallantry.

    The chivalry.

    The honor.

    You almost made me cry.

    One thing we can all agree on: those men were all Americans, brave, the best fighting forces ever seen and too many were sacrificed.

    BTW – I am not a good sport – I am a jerk, but I am trying to be a good disciple – so any pleasantness, good will, temperate nature and sportsmanship is nothing I dare take credit for – you can thank Our Lady – i’m just her humble slave.

    God bless America (both of them).

  31. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “those men were all Americans, brave, the best fighting forces ever seen and too many were sacrificed.”

    Amen. A Confederate general said after the war that with Confederate infantry and Union artillery he could take any position on Earth.

  32. Tito Edwards says:

    In defense of General Robert E. Lee, he had to deal with grossly inadequate arms and a lack of manpower.

    While General U.S. Grant pretty much armed Irish immigrants entering the port of New York and Boston and fed them into Confederate fire, thus exhausting Confederate arms and men.

    Yes General Grant was very good, but if General Lee had the same resources that Grant had, I doubt that Lee would have lost a squeaker to Grant at Gettysburg.

    It may have well been a route for Lee over Grant.

    Again, one of the many “What If’s” of history.

  33. American Knight says:

    Too bad the Confederate cavalry was late to Gettysburg.

    Also, the honorable passion and heroic gallantry of the South is evident by the fact that an agrarian country lasted those many years, let alone defended herself against the aggression of the industrial North. When those snobby Washingtonians had a picnic on Centreville Ridge to watch the squabble at First Manassas – they got one heck of a surprise. Poor old McLean, moved his farm due to the fighting at that first battle only to end up at Appomattox.

    America loves the underdog and the CSA was certainly that. Ah, but, but that is now the stuff of romantic legend.

    Here’s to all those Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks – they beat the snot out of each other and then kicked the pants off the Germans, Italians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, (Grenadans, Panamanians), Libyans, Iraqis, Afghanis and anyone else that messes with the USA (CSA). Yeeh-hah and Hoo-yah!

  34. Though just to nit-pick, Grant wasn’t leading the Federal forces at Gettysburg, Meade was.

    During the Battle of Gettysburg, Grant was busy grinding out his own victory at Vicksburg.

  35. Tito Edwards says:

    My eyes are glazing over from reading all day.

    My bad.

    I meant Meade.

  36. Donald R. McClarey says:

    July 4, 1863, Lee retreats from Gettysburg and Vicksburg surrenders to Grant. Rarely have turning points in a war been so vividly underlined.

  37. Don’t mean to be a punk, Tito. Just sayin’. 🙂

    Actually, my personal theory would be that if Grant has been commanding the Union army at Gettysburg, Lee’s army would never have made it back across the Potomac. Meade wasn’t a bad general, and his army was badly mauled, but someone as relentless as Grant would have pressed on and captured Lee against the river.

  38. Tito Edwards says:

    Darwin,

    Your the furthest thing from a punk.

    Sadly I know enough punks in my life to spot one immediately. And punks don’t like me when I’m finished with them.

    You could be right.

    General Grant went through men as if they were expendable or something. He would have hounded Lee for sure.

  39. Nathan Ang says:

    “The position of Lincoln was that the Southern states had never been out of the Union and that the rebels were our countrymen at all times. He chose to, in his memorable phrase, ‘let them up easy’ as men who had fought valiantly for what they thought was right.”

    If the Confederates were wrong in fighting for secession, then they would be guilty of treason, which is clearly defined in defined in the U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Article III Section 3. No amount of “merciful policy” can wish it away. The only way for the Confederates not to be guilty of treason is for them to be correct – there must be a right to secede. (“We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately,” as Benjamin Franklin wryly observed during the American Revolution. He knew – along with Jefferson, Washington, Adams and the others of that illustrious generation – that if they lost the war against Britain, they probably would have been convicted of treason.)

  40. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “No amount of “merciful policy” can wish it away.”

    Rubbish. Lincoln did it and his policy was followed by the government after his death. There were no prosecutions for treason after the war and it was a wise policy.

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