Patterico's Pontifications

6/20/2011

A Juneteenth Suggestion

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:24 am



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So yesterday was Juneteenth, that is June 19, on which many Americans celebrate the end of slavery.  But the strangeness of this choice of date is demonstrated by this Presidential Proclamation:

On this day in 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the word finally came down to slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free and entitled to the same “absolute equality of rights” and “right to property” protected under law.

From what I know of the history of the time, though, the slaves assuredly knew well before that day.  As this Smithsonian website makes it clear, it’s probably better termed as the day they were officially told, in one place.  To be blunt, it’s an event of dubious national historical significance.

On the other hand, it seems self-evident to me that we should have a day to remember when slavery ended.  Even if not a single one of your ancestors was held in bondage, we all had a stake in the struggle to end slavery.  We were struggling for nothing less than our national soul.  We were determining whether we were going to actually stick to the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, or fritter it away with special pleading.  Consider for instance Abraham Lincoln discussing the dueling interpretations of the Declaration, and what it would mean if the narrower interpretation was adopted:

We find a race* of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men; they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity which we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time, of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves, we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age and race and country in which we live, for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have–besides these, men descended by blood from our ancestors–among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men; they are men who have come from Europe, German, Irish, French, and Scandinavian,–men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us; but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”; and then they feel that that moral sentiment, taught in that day, evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration; and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of “don’t care if slavery is voted up or voted down,” for sustaining the Dred Scott decision, for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now, I ask you in all soberness if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and indorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow,–what are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says, You work, and I eat; you toil, and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will, whether it come from the mouth of a king, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent; and I hold, if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this should be granted, it does not stop with the negro.

I should like to know, if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that Declaration is not the truth, let us get the statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it? If it is not true, let us tear it out!

[Cries of “No, no.”]

Let us stick to it, then; let us stand firmly by it, then.

So like the people of German, Irish, French, and Scandinavian blood in Lincoln’s example, those of us who did not descend from slaves, or indeed are not black at all, can and should find in the end of slavery a vindication of the same principle we celebrate on July 4th.

But that doesn’t mean the date isn’t strange.  So let me suggest we make a dedicated effort to establish a proper American holiday to celebrate the end of that institution, including a day off. If memory serves, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863 and that would seem like a good nominee except for the fact that it comes on New Year’s day, sucking most of the oxygen out of the room.  But on the other hand, the Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and was officially ratified on December 6 of the same year.  Either date would make a better choice for the day to celebrate emancipation because unlike the Emancipation Proclamation it was universal, permanent and undeniably lawful.

Will my proposal ever actually, happen?  Unlikely.  Inertia alone suggests that June 19 will remain the date on which Americans celebrate the end of slavery.  But for what it’s worth, that is my suggestion.

————————————–

* At that time, people described what we would consider now to be mere “ethnicities” as “races.”

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

63 Responses to “A Juneteenth Suggestion”

  1. We already have Lincoln’s birthday. And recently also MLK’s birthday. If the cause of abolition derives from the Declaration of Independence, then we have the 4th of July. What more do we need?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  2. A major-gift giving holiday in June, that’s what.

    SarahW (af7312)

  3. Of course there is already my birthday for that.

    SarahW (af7312)

  4. slavery was a seriously dumb idea but the Pigford Reparations are still corrupt and gay

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  5. the 250,000 former slaves in Texas learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which could not be enforced until the war was over. (It applied only to the states “in rebellion” at the time it was issued.

    Aaron
    I am not an Americanist, but I have understood that EP only applied to the Confederate States. Would the slaves have understood the difference? Hard to say. They were illiterate, and therefore, relied on word of mouth for news.

    So like the people of German, Irish, French, and Scandinavian blood in Lincoln’s example, those of us who did not descend from slaves, or indeed are not black at all, can and should find in the end of slavery a vindication of the same principle we celebrate on July 4th.

    I have had discussions with descendants of post-civil war immigrants over their frustration from being lumped-in with the DAR descendants. These people were pro-civil rights liberals who resented be held responsible for slavery. At that point, I asked if they advocated setting up a government genealogy center, in order to select appropriate candidates to pay a reparation tax. All joking aside, Americans need to understand that many Europeans fled to the US because they lacked freedom. The history of Europe is filled with examples of the repression of several religious, ethnic and political groups. Slavery existed in more forms than the traditional Southern state mode.

    Yes, we should all celebrate our freedom together.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  6. I think Juneteenth represents, in a sense, the first day that the last deniers of emancipation gave up. It, in that sense, marks the beginning of the period when emancipation was the norm (if not the actuality).

    Vic Havens (a9a87b)

  7. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have ancestors that fought for the North in the Civil war, and the rest are post-War immigrants.

    Some were even (gasp!) Canadians!

    I’d love to celebrate Great-great grandfather’s victory over this abhorrent institution. We could call it “We Aren’t A**holes Anymore-Day”

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  8. Pious

    lol

    Well, you touch on a good point. out of niceness to southern sensitivities, we devalue the sacrifices of those who fought for the union.

    Vic

    interesting theory. i haven’t heard that one explained.

    milhouse

    i would fully favor scrapping another holiday for this one. i propose doing away with labor day.

    and we don’t celebrate lincoln’s birthday as a separate holiday, so… yeah, i think one day commemorating the new birth of freedom we had back then is a good idea. but that’s just my opinion…

    Aaron Worthing (b1db52)

  9. “Of course there is already my birthday for that.”

    SarahW – I maintain a policy of accepting gifts, major or minor, year round. So far, not many people have noticed.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  10. For instance, I wonder if Americans understand how few Europeans were allowed to vote until the later part of the 19th-century? (It depends on the country) Or the draconian laws restricting the civil rights for women? How about the legal status of a guild apprentice or persons serving as indentured servants? All of these laws changed over time, from the Colonial American era through the Victorian era. My point is that the designation of immigrants arriving earlier rather than later, does not indicate greater responsibility for slavery.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have ancestors that fought for the North in the Civil war,

    Just a note to consider: The treatment of immigrants in northern US factories may not have been “slavery” but it is considered an ugly and shameful condition. Lincoln was a true Emancipationist, but many northern politicians had other priorities and goals besides freeing slaves. The goal of ending slavery justified the war, but the northern motivations don’t look so pristine when viewed under the glass.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  11. While it is true that the North did not go to war solely in order to abolish slavery, it is undeniable that the South went to war to retain it.

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  12. bmertz – Capitalism is eeeevil!!!!!11ty!!!!!!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  13. Perhaps the popularity of Juneteenth has to do somewhat with regionalism. I grew up in the West (Colorado), and we celebrated Juneteenth in my town. Other than some skirmishes in Texas and a battle at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico, the Civil War didn’t really touch the Southwest or the West. Because of this, Juneteenth would be an important moment for Westerners, all the more because we don’t have our own Gettysburg or Vicksburg to commemorate.

    JVW (24ee9a)

  14. Excellent idea, Daley. I think I will adopt your policy and see what it brings.

    PatAZ (5ce858)

  15. @Pious#11
    No argument there. But, considering what historians have dug up regarding why the north went to war; which regional descendants can indulge themselves in modern-day back-patting? People marched off for a variety of reasons on both sides of the fence. Unless you have their personal journals, you don’t know why. By this point, our population groups have moved back and forth so often that it seems rather fruitless to engage in demonizing regions

    bmertz (d77c52)

  16. @daley LOL hey 19th-century factories dude.

    Just to make it clear, I do like the idea of celebrating the end of Slavery.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  17. Pious Agnostic, inform yourself, look into the reasons Virginia decided to secede, after they decided not to secede over slavery.

    ropelight (68e9fb)

  18. It’s not my intention to demonize regions. I live in the South and love it.

    Ropelight, please give me a thumbnail of it: they fired on Ft. Sumter after the election of a pro-Abolitionist president after wrangling through legal means for four-score years for some other reason than the belief that the abolition of slavery was Lincoln’s end-game?

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  19. The one thread common to all southern states who seceeded was slavery of black people. Period.

    The leaders of the Confederacy claimed it was about slavery.

    Why there is a need to paste over this with historical White-out™ I do not know.

    steve miller (e20c9c)

  20. “Pious Agnostic, inform yourself, look into the reasons Virginia decided to secede, after they decided not to secede over slavery.”

    Their secession document states it was because the federal government perverted its powers “not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States.” This was after the attack on fort sumpter.

    stone (8c9005)

  21. OK, I’m willing to modify my statement to:

    Twelve out of Thirteen States seceded in order to protect slavery, and Virginia seceded because the they didn’t want to be left behind when all their friends left the playground.

    Does that make anybody happier?

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  22. “But on the other hand, the Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and was officially ratified on December 6 of the same year. Either date would make a better choice for the day to celebrate emancipation because unlike the Emancipation Proclamation it was universal, permanent and undeniably lawful.”

    How about March 16th, as a reminder of the date in 1995 when Mississippi (Goddam) finally ratified it?

    stone (8c9005)

  23. Pious

    > It’s not my intention to demonize regions. I live in the South and love it.

    That’s precisely how i feel, too. i live in the south. i ain’t go no problem with the modern south. its the south in 1860 i can’t abide.

    Aaron Worthing (b1db52)

  24. @Comment by steve miller — 6/20/2011 @ 11:24 am
    I believe the primary discussion is regarding the descendants of union/confederate soldiers (individuals),colonial vs. post-civil war immigrants and that there were mixed motivations in northern state governments (a matter of historical record). It was not over the decisions of the Civil War southern state governments to support slavery. No one is arguing that the southern state governments were not fighting to retain slavery.Their economy was built on it, just as the much northern states was built on a ready source of cheap (and abused) immigrant labor. I am more of a cynic regarding the north’s (not Lincoln’s) motivations in declaring war. While I condemn the southern states’ actions, neither do I place northern motivations on some pedestal of purity. Many of their power brokers were after money, not freedom for American slaves. Remember, the influence of common voters was far more limited in this era. If northern industrialists cared so much about human rights, why were their factories conditions so terrible? Taking a blunt look at history requires removing the ideological and regional blinders.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  25. The north wasn’t pure by any means. The cause was IMO unionism at first, and slavery-eradication as a distant third or fifth motive. No war plan survives the first encounter with the enemy, and no cause for war survives its first encounter with the opposing philosophy.

    I just don’t want to put up with those who “sympathize” with men who kept other men in chains, and called it good.

    steve miller (e20c9c)

  26. PatAZ – Good luck with that. Chicks get all the loot. It’s unfair.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  27. @aaron and Pius

    I wish Hollywood and the MSM agreed with you.
    You would think that everyone in the south still swished about in hoop skirts ringing a bell for their slaves to run up with a mint julip. Or that the rest of the south apparently sleeps in with Bessie the Hog during cold weather. I agree that the south should not glorify its pre-civil war era but it would be nice if the media allowed it to move on. Instead the South has become nothing more than a caricature. Regional slurs are the new, acceptable form of bigotry.

    Pious, I just like to argue about History. Actually, it is compulsive

    bmertz (d77c52)

  28. just don’t want to put up with those who “sympathize” with men who kept other men in chains, and called it good.

    @stevemiller
    You won’t find any regulars here that disagree with you

    bmertz (d77c52)

  29. 1. We already have Lincoln’s birthday.
    — Since when? NOT a federal holiday.

    Icy Texan (4ebbba)

  30. 18 and 19, here’s a quick overview, following Lincoln’s election and his call to abolish slavery, Virginia voted to remain in the Union and accept the end of involuntary servitude. Only when Lincoln raised an army to force South Carolina back into the Union by force of arms did Virginia secede. (The central role of Robert E Lee is particularly informative here.)

    Immediately after the Revolution, when representatives of the former colonies initially met and formed the Union, Virginia specifically reserved the right (as a balance to federal power) to withdraw should the federal government ever usurp the rights of the State or of the people.

    Virginia feared the unchecked accumulation of federal power and considered withdrawal from the Union as the only effective way to prevent the growth of tyranny. (See Virginia’s motto.)

    The Legislature of Virginia considered South Carolina’s call to resist Lincoln’s abolition of slavery by seceding and voted against secession.

    However when Lincoln announced his intention to prevent South Carolina from leaving the Union by raising an army and compelling an independent state to yield to federal domination, Virginia voted to secede rather than allow the federal government to violate the rights of free men to withdraw from an association they had voluntarily joined.

    Pious Agnostic, I wrote the above before I read your comment #21. Now, I repeat my earlier statement: inform yourself. For example 12 States didn’t secede. By the time of the War of Northern Aggression there were more than the original 13 States in the Union.

    You’re way too quick to adopt a simplistic view of a complex situation.

    ropelight (68e9fb)

  31. So just for the sake of starting an argument:

    Should all the descendants of pre-civil war immigrants pay a reparations tax every Juneteeth?

    “ain’t” ?

    oh boy

    bmertz (d77c52)

  32. “War of Northern Aggression

    cute.

    stone (8c9005)

  33. Pious – For your own benefit in speaking with ropelight on this subject, inform yourself about the huge number of blacks fighting on the side of the Confederacy in the Civil War.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  34. Re: Hollywood’s presentation of the South, I agree that there aren’t that many good examples, and that most Southerners are presented as ignorant bigots.

    Now, I have to say, some of my Alabama relatives are remarkably uninformed (pace ropelight) and unenlightened with regard to race. That’s the way they were raised and it is a damn shame.

    Of course, my wife’s sister’s gay ex-husband’s dumbass racist redneck family all live in New Hampshire, which as far as I know never had slaves nor seceded from the Union.

    But perhaps I’m uninformed.

    Pious Agnostic (6048a8)

  35. Look, I’m not a scholar nor a historian. I realize that the principles and politics and timing of issues is complicated and muddy. It’d be lovely if real-world events had a beautiful purity that underlined them. As much as I would like to believe that the Union’s motives were saintly, and the Confederacy’s entirely demonic, I only have to look around at the politics and people who are our leaders today to see that mankind is in a fallen state and in need of redemption, at all times and in all places.

    But I think that from the perspective of all these years, can’t we come to an agreement that, whatever people may have thought the Civil War was about at the time, that what it actually turned out to be about was the horrifying institution of slavery, which as so many of our Founding Fathers (including many slave-owners) realized was entirely at odds with the principles of liberty upon which our nation was founded.

    To quibble about timing, motives, even the indisputable honor of many of those who fought for the Confederacy, is to abandon the far sight that years give us. What came after the War was years horror, graft, corruption, dirty-dealing, theft, murder, terror and eventually, slowly, healing and reunion. So much awfulness occurred and lives wasted, and for what?

    One thing: freedom for blacks throughout this nation, the extension of freedom, and a continuation of a rule of law, shaky, stumbling, but mostly in the right direction.

    If the Civil War was not about this, then what was it about? What other motive should it have been about?

    Pious Agnostic (6048a8)

  36. Comment by Pious Agnostic — 6/20/2011 @ 1:19 pm

    can’t we come to an agreement that, whatever people may have thought the Civil War was about at the time, that what it actually turned out to be about was the horrifying institution of slavery, which as so many of our Founding Fathers (including many slave-owners) realized was entirely at odds with the principles of liberty upon which our nation was founded.

    @Pious
    Certainly, no doubt that your point is the important perspective to view the long duree since the Civil War. Not a debatable issue.

    My reaction to part of this discussion stemmed from a few unpleasant encounters with other people who exuded excessive self-righteousness towards the modern south, based on what happened during the 1800s. It gets old.

    I can cite some very embarrassing people living in my state as well. Everyone has their quota of uncouth characters. But I’ve lived in both the south and north, and much to my shock, the north has just as many racial problems. I had bought into the southern stereotype at that time, and expected a more racially tolerant climate in the north.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  37. @bmertz

    My reaction to part of this discussion stemmed from a few unpleasant encounters with other people who exuded excessive self-righteousness towards the modern south, based on what happened during the 1800s. It gets old.

    Well, hell, I’d rather see a discussion about whether or not the Democratic party has changed all that much since it championed slavery and secession during the Civil War, acting as “Copperheads” and then promoted Jim Crow and Poll Taxes afterwards.

    I’ll put this out there, and you tell me if I’m right or wrong: The Klan was the military arm of the Democratic Party, much like the IRA was the military arm of Sinn Féin.

    And I’ll just start by saying, if you think I’m trolling, I won’t deny it.

    Pious Agnostic (6048a8)

  38. @Pious,
    I don’t work in American History, so my background on that subject is not extensive. I have read a few histories that support that thesis. That argument swings some major weight, in that the southern post-civil war state and local governments and their law enforcement agencies were absolutely ruled by the Democratic party until the Reagan era. How could the Klan operate that openly without law enforcement looking the other way? The question could also be stated as to whether their actions were the result of a climate that accepted racial repression(an informal alliance) or that of an open agreement to enforce it by any means. Someone has probably done the research somewhere if you want to track it down. I think that
    there are several American historians that would back you up on that idea. It is impressive but revolting to observe how the Democratic Party buried their history of post-civil war civil rights repression and their open fight against passage of the Civil Rights act. Quite the hat trick.

    I would also like to point out that some of the worst Klan and neo-Nazi activity I have observed occurred in a northern state run by the Democratic party. It tends to make you rethink many preconceptions.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  39. And on that note– I have to dash out the door.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  40. #34, Pious Agnostic, FYI. New Hampshire’s seaport towns were heavily invested in the slave trade and the state’s factories and larger farms depended on cheap slave labor and on indentured servitude.

    Transporting and selling African slaves created the prosperity of many of the state’s prestigious families, the Cutts, Whipples, Ladds, Lears, Langdons, and Wentworths. Portsmouth was the center for slave auctions.

    In fact, when New Hampshire took it’s first official stand against slavery in 1846, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the following poem to commemorate the occasion and to call on the other Northern slave states follow the Granite State’s example.

    NEW HAMPSHIRE

    God bless New Hampshire! for her granite peaks
    Once more the voice of Stark and Langdon speaks.
    The long-bound vassal of the exulting South
    For very shame her self-forged chain has broken;
    Torn the black seal of slavery from her mouth
    And in the clear tones of her old time spoken!
    Oh, all undreamed of, all unhoped for changes!
    The tyrant’s ally proves his sternest foe;
    To all his biddings, from her mountain ranges,
    New Hampshire thunders an indignant No!
    Who is it now despairs? Oh, faint of heart,
    Look upward to those Northern mountains cold,
    Flouted by freedom’s victor-flag unrolled,
    And gather strength to bear a manlier part!
    All is not lost. The angel of God’s blessing
    Encamps with Freedom on the field of fight;
    Still to her banner, day by day, are pressing
    Unlooked for allies, striking for the right!
    Courage, then, Northern hearts! Be firm, be true;
    What one brave State hath done, can ye not also do?

    ropelight (68e9fb)

  41. I hate Illinois Nazis.

    Pious Agnostic (6048a8)

  42. Why don’t you look into the issue of slavery in Illinois? Start with the state’s 2nd Governor, Edward Coles, his experience is quite interesting, and not at all what you might expect.

    ropelight (68e9fb)


  43. I am not an Americanist, but I have understood that EP only applied to the Confederate States.


    It applied to the states in open insurrection, yes, and nominally might not have applied to others, but the amount of slavery outside those insurrecting states was, though not zero, pretty nominal.

    It was, essentially, the death knell for either the nation or for slavery, and everyone knew it, regardless of its direct effect on them.

    One of the more annoying criticisms of the FF’s was that they didn’t end slavery themselves. I contend that that’s probably what they thought they had done by banning the importation of slaves.

    Understanding the economic situation they found themselves in, it was wholly politically, socially, and economically impossible to erase the “asset”, such as it was, that slaves represented, from the accounting books of the time. Had they done so, the new nation’s finances would have collapsed, and, indeed, they almost did under the Articles of Confederation, the precursor document binding the States together from the end of the Revolution to the signing of the Constitution. Search “Not Worth A Continental”.

    So, in the creation of the Constitution, they banned the importation of slaves after a certain date, figuring, no doubt, that that would lead to the slow dissolution of slavery in the nation, as older slaves died and were replaced by paid labor. They no doubt believed this would make the end of slavery less of an economic shock.

    I believe it would have horrified them to see the manner in which slavery in the southern states became institutionalized, and the children of slaves became slaves themselves, bred like cattle for the purpose.

    This was their chief failure as the FF’s, in fact. They failed to see that foolishness as possible. Its longer-term repercussions have still not finished playing out, largely thanks to liberals and Democrats, who keep stoking the fires for their own benefit.

    Emily Litella (c9dcd8)

  44. DOH. That was me. Forgot the sock puppet thread.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  45. Coincidentally, tomorrow is National IGotBupkis Day.

    As usual, I’ll get bupkis.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)


  46. it seems rather fruitless to engage in demonizing regions


    Oh, don’t be silly. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of otherwise useless demagogues to support!!!

    Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are not the only ones, you know.

    .

    Smock Puppet, Master Geneticist and Professional Phrenologist (c9dcd8)

  47. @ 32: A local bookshop here in Houston specialized in Militaria. The shelves relevent to this thread were labeled “The LAte Unpleasantness”.

    How’s that for euphemism? (Or gentility. I rather hew to the latter. Sweet old ladies, and the shop is no longer.)

    JC (a88820)


  48. I am more of a cynic regarding the north’s (not Lincoln’s) motivations in declaring war.


    Ah, I’m rather confused about who is arguing what, here.

    a) The south seceded from the union, and fired at Union forces at Ft. Sumter. So the first act of war was by the South, not the North. That doesn’t seem clear from comments, so I wanted to be sure that it was.
    b) The north certainly intended to end slavery, no dispute. The chief question and argument was over whether they had the right to do so under the Constitution. It was the South’s position that they did not, and it’s a reasonable argument that the Civil War was both a substantial blow to the idea of a decentralized Fed and a massive increase in Federal powers at the cost of powers many believed belonged in the hands of the States.

    While I am VERY sympathetic to the generalized position of the States that the Fed in a general sense might have been overstepping its bounds in many ways, the real fact of the matter is that the Fed did and does have a responsibility to protect the rights of individual citizens.

    The so-called “slaves” were, by any number of rational arguments, individual citizens of the nation, and one power the States cannot argue in favor of having is the right to abolish for anyone the individual rights granted by the Constitution.

    The simple fact is, the South (and yes, I live there myself) of the time did not even allow its black citizens the right “to vote with their feet” in the modern sense, in the form of Fugitive Slave Laws.

    “You left the state because you didn’t agree with their notion of how to treat their citizens? Too damned bad, get back heah, nigga!” (pardon my use of the ‘n’ word)

    So the South was attempting to explicitly override protections for the individual which the Constitution granted its black citizens. The North was fully correct in demanding that the South cease its efforts to hold them in bondage.

    You can be as cynical as you want about The North’s underlying motivations, it really doesn’t matter, there — The South was flat-out wrong on its power to dictate individual rights in direct violation of the Constitution’s strictures on the matter.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)


  49. However when Lincoln announced his intention to prevent South Carolina from leaving the Union by raising an army and compelling an independent state to yield to federal domination, Virginia voted to secede rather than allow the federal government to violate the rights of free men to withdraw from an association they had voluntarily joined.


    Rope, that was, no doubt, their position, but the real central fact, one which was underlying the idea even if people of the time didn’t really think consciously about it, is corollary to what I suggested above — The white men might have had the right to secede, but did they have the right to force the black men to secede with them?

    Suppose, hypothetically, the North had said, “Go ahead, secede, but you must allow any black men who don’t wish to remain in the South free exit from the country and into the North or anywhere else in the world they wish to go which will accept them….”

    What do you think the response of The South to that proposition would have been? I think if you claim it to be anything but “Damn Hell No!” then you are lying, either to us or to yourself.

    The fact is, The South had no right under the Constitution to treat its black citizens as it did. To do so, and then to attempt to secede when it became clear that they would be told they could not, was itself a violation of the Constitutional right of all the black citizens of The South, which was hardly a minor percentage of them at the time.

    The Fed often usurps rights, especially nowadays, which I don’t believe our FFs would approve of.

    I don’t believe protecting, by force, the individual rights and freedoms of the individual would be something they’d object to.

    Was this how they thought of it? Probably not in so many words — but I do believe that much of the Northern citizenry DID take issue with the idea of treating them as slaves. Even those who felt blacks were “less than whites”, and I’d grant that was probably quite a few, objected to that level of debasement and devaluing of the black man.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  50. I’ve got a standard piece on the Dems and racism — if you’ve seen it before, mea culpa.
    =========================================================================

    I think the Democratic party’s Racial Con of making the GOP out to be the racists is perhaps the greatest con job in human history.

    The Dems gained very real major power in the 1870s — by appealing to the racists in the South angry over Republican plans for the Reconstruction — ones which involved “40 acres and a mule” and such, to actually provide reparations and a measure of equality to the former slaves — policies which the Dems gradually chipped away at and a boulder which the GOP finally got tired of pushing uphill. The Dems used this to gain the entire South as a power base for over sixty years.

    Further, the Dems have had two major schisms in the last 60 years over race — in the 1948 (the Dixiecrats) and the 1964 Dem conventions (the latter in which legally elected black representatives from the South were disenfranchized at the convention by machinations of Humphrey and Johnson — which led directly to the subsequent violence in the 60s, including the 1968 convention and the Watts riots. Details here).

    The Dems also continue to promote victimhood and class warfare memes and policies which are divisive and have led to nothing good for American blacks — the fruits of their attitudes are clear: ignorance, illiteracy, and futility, leading to a ridiculously large number of black males being incarcerated (correctly, mind you), massive levels of black illegitimacy (presence of a balancing fatherhood figure is a strong indicator of later success in life), and, through the prisons, widespread AIDS in the black populace.

    When a black man or woman succeeds without their help, the Dems feel nothing whatsoever about denigrating them and their accomplishments by using offensively pejorative memes and terms — terms like “stepinfetchit”, “Uncle Tom”, and “pickaninny”.

    It is particularly telling that the Kerry campaign had no prominent black people on it until someone noticed this and commented on it, only AFTER which were “a few token darkies” given visible places of “import”.

    Who are the racists, again?

    In contrast, I suggest you consider the following:

    We pledge that our American citizens of Negro descent
    shall be given a square deal in the economic and political
    life of this nation. Discrimination in the civil service,
    the army, navy, and all other branches of the Government
    must cease. To enjoy the full benefits of life, liberty
    and pursuit of happiness universal suffrage must be made
    effective for the Negro citizen. Mob violence shocks the
    conscience of the nation and legislation to curb this evil
    should be enacted.

    — from the 1940 GOP platform

    Contrast especially with:

    We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial
    integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose
    one’s associates; to accept private employment without
    governmental interference, and to learn one’s living in any
    lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the
    repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private
    employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed
    civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government
    and a minimum interference with individual rights.

    We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention
    in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination
    of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of
    private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.

    — from the 1948 Dixiecrat’s Platform

    Just who is the friggin’ racist bunch, again?

    The Truth needs to be put before the people and make it clear to all around that the Dems are not only the party who represents racism and racist policies, but have been for not less than 140 years and counting.

    And, while that won’t change all the minds, it’s the Truth, and they won’t be able to do much more than counter it with still more and ever blatant lies… which we will re-counter with still more Truth.

    And I have faith in the Truth’s power to win hearts and minds in the long run.

    I also recommend Wolf Howling’s excellent overview if the racial histories of the Dems and the GOP.

    .
    ============================
    P.S., one of the more obvious claims in response of that last part is that “The Dixiecrats” were not “Democrats”.

    Yeah, right.
    They were Democrats in 1944.
    They were Democrats again in 1952.

    Ergo — They were a significant part of the Democratic party both before 1948 and again after 1948.

    There was no equivalent power faction in the GOP, ever.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  51. Bupkis, you’re full of it. The constitution was carefully drafted not to ban slavery; it would never have been ratified had it done so. Allowing slavery was a non-negotiable condition for the south’s agreement to create the USA in the first place. The abolitionists had no choice but to agree to the condition or walk away without a union, so they agreed. Therefore any interpretation that reads such a ban into it is by definition invalid. Your so-called constitutional “analysis” is a deliberate lie.

    That’s why the radical abolitionists wanted the northern states to secede from the union in the 1840s. That’s why they denounced the constitution and declared it to have no binding authority.

    As for Fort Sumter, what sovereign nation could allow a hostile power to maintain a base inside a major city’s harbour? Do you imagine the USA in the 1930s would have allowed a German base on an island in New York harbour, constantly threatening the city? Or a Soviet base during the Cold War? Maintaining the base was itself an act of war, and the newly independent South Carolina had every right to attack it. And as a federal asset within the state, it naturally belonged to the newly independent state, just as the 13 rebel colonies had taken over all UK government assets in their territories when they declared independence.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  52. Milhouse, is it your proposition, then, that the rebel government of South Carolina, in open rebellion against the Union, was justified in firing upon Ft Sumter?

    I realize that the fighting had to start somewhere, and apparently Ft Sumter was that spot.

    But if I understand you, you’re saying that because Charleston was threatened by the guns of Ft Sumter, they had to be attacked in a preemptive way in order for South Carolinians to feel safe in their slave-holding ways.

    Even admitting my own biased hostility, this seems like an outrageous position to take in the 21st century.

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  53. Pious Agnostic, here’s a Wikipedia account of the Battle of Fort Sumter. After reading the following you’ll see it’s best to avoid simplistic views of highly complex situations.

    “The Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12–13, 1861) was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War.

    Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On December 26, 1860, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surreptitiously moved his small command from the indefensible Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to Fort Sumter, a substantial fortress controlling the entrance of Charleston Harbor. An attempt by U.S. President James Buchanan to reinforce and resupply Anderson, using the unarmed merchant ship Star of the West, failed when it was fired upon by shore batteries on January 9, 1861. South Carolina authorities then seized all Federal property in the Charleston area, except for Fort Sumter.

    During the early months of 1861, the situation around Fort Sumter increasingly began to resemble a siege. In March, Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, the first general officer of the newly formed Confederate States of America, was placed in command of Confederate forces in Charleston. Beauregard energetically directed the strengthening of batteries around Charleston harbor aimed at Fort Sumter. Conditions in the fort grew dire as the Federals rushed to complete the installation of additional guns. Anderson was short of men, food, and supplies.

    The resupply of Fort Sumter became the first crisis of the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. He notified the Governor of South Carolina, Francis W. Pickens, that he was sending supply ships, which resulted in an ultimatum from the Confederate government: evacuate Fort Sumter immediately. Major Anderson refused to surrender. Beginning at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, the Confederates bombarded the fort from artillery batteries surrounding the harbor. Although the Union garrison returned fire, they were significantly outgunned and, after 34 hours, Major Anderson agreed to evacuate. There was no loss of life on either side as a direct result of this engagement, although a gun explosion during the surrender ceremonies on April 14 caused two Union deaths.

    Following the battle, there was widespread support from both North and South for further military action. Lincoln’s immediate call for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion resulted in an additional four states also declaring their secession and joining the Confederacy. The Civil War had begun…”

    ropelight (874f74)

  54. Milhouse, is it your proposition, then, that the rebel government of South Carolina, in open rebellion against the Union, was justified in firing upon Ft Sumter?

    Absolutely.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  55. “As for Fort Sumter, what sovereign nation could allow a hostile power to maintain a base inside a major city’s harbour?”

    I don’t know. Cuba maybe? But they have sh*t all choice. 😉

    Random (880603)

  56. Huh? Guantanamo Bay is nowhere near any city, major or minor. It certainly doesn’t pose an immediate threat to Cuba. But you can be sure that if Cuba had the power to expel the USA it would do so, and international lawyers would back it up. Just as Spain would expel the UK from Gibraltar, if it dared to.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  57. I actually know that, Milhouse. If I wasn’t aware of all the details, I knew it wasn’t by a major city, and that’s why I used the word “Maybe” …

    I was exaggerating to poke fun at Cuba’s impotence at that American thorn in their side.

    Random (8ec277)

  58. I actually know that, Milhouse. If I wasn’t aware of all the details, I knew it wasn’t by a major city, and that’s why I used the word “Maybe” ….

    I was exaggerating to poke fun at Cuba’s impotence at that American thorn in their side.

    Random (880603)

  59. Random, it’s an interesting unanswered question: How is it that Castro’s government hasn’t made a big issue of our base at Guantanamo Bay?

    The Cubans have had several golden opportunities where they could have pushed hard for US withdrawal. I don’t recall even a half-hearted attempt and I’ve never seen a satisfying explanation. I’ll look into it.

    ropelight (06bcb2)

  60. “The South was flat-out wrong on its power to dictate individual rights in direct violation of the Constitution’s strictures on the matter. “

    On that point, I have no dispute. The motivations of the North does not validate the decisions of the South.

    “You left the state because you didn’t agree with their notion of how to treat their citizens?

    huh? I don’t think I said anything about the reasons for moving there and back again.

    bmertz (d77c52)

  61. Wikipedia has a pretty good explaination of the original 1903 Treaty

    ropelight (06bcb2)

  62. #60 continued: which leased GITMO to the US in perpetuity (included in the Cuban Constitution). A subsequent modification in 1934 reaffirmed the lease continues till the US decides to withdraw.

    Castro has attempted to regain control but the International Law of Treaties clearly favors the US position.

    Since Castro took over, only one of the monthly US lease payment checks has been cashed, Castro claims it was cashed only because of “confusion” at the beginning of his reign. All subsequent checks (uncashed) collect dust in his desk drawer.

    ropelight (06bcb2)

  63. Very interesting explanation, ropelight! Thanks for taking the time to research it and relay it.

    Random (2611e9)


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