Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sure, Lincoln is Bad, But Jeff Davis is the Real Monster!


It has been widely repeated-as-fact that America's Neo-Know-Nothing Party never been in this much ruinous, factional disarray.

But this is not true.

From incompetent, backbiting "leadership" to the inability to compromise their depraved dogma one iota in order to get anything done, back when the political antecedents of our own "The Gummint Is The Problem and Negroes Terrify Me" meathheads called themselves the "Confederate States of America" they acted in ways which are eerily similar to their modern-day ideological great-grandchildren.

...In reality, the Confederate leadership was rife with infighting. Davis argued with the Confederate House and Senate, state governors and his own cabinet. Senators threatened one another with physical violence. Some were brutal drunks, others hopeless idealists who would not bend even when it meant the difference between victory and defeat. Commanders were often assigned not on the basis of skill but because of personal connections.

Debates over such issues as whether the Confederacy needed a Supreme Court dragged on, squandering time that would have been better spent on making sure the troops were well fed. Davis frequently interfered with generals in the field, micromanaging their campaigns and playing favorites, ignoring the chain of command and placing trust in men who were utterly incompetent.

Some states, led by their governors, wanted to set themselves up as separate nations, further undermining a unified war effort. Tensions were so extreme that the vice president of the Confederacy refused to live in the same state as Davis—and this while they were trying to win a war.

Davis knew his political existence and those of his colleagues had been built on the concept of states’ rights. To have a chance at winning the war, however, he needed sweeping administrative and military central powers. The Confederate States of America needed to act as one.

The internal war between Davis and Congress erupted quickly. On Nov-ember 8, 1861, Davis’ war clerk, John B. Jones, wrote in his diary, “No Executive had ever such cordial and unanimous support.” By the summer of 1862, however, he reported “murmurs” against the president. Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory remarked in August how Congress seemed unhappy with Davis and that a “spirit of opposition” was growing. Meanwhile, South?Carolina Senator Lawrence Keitt openly termed Davis “a failure.”

Field officers also joined in the attacks against Davis. Robert A. Toombs, a Georgia politician who had briefly served as Davis’ secretary of state, was now a brigadier general hoping to win the war by killing Yankees rather than arguing in Richmond. He frequently shared his frustrations with fellow Georgian Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president, including comments like, “As [to] the assignment of Smith’s regiment, [Secretary of State Judah P.] Benjamin wrote me that the President instructed him to suggest to me to call Genl. [Joseph E.] Johnston’s attention to it; that he was commander of both corps of the army. I replied to Benj[amin] that I had good reasons to know that fact, ‘and in common with the army, not without reasons to lament it.’ I never knew as incompetent [an] executive officer. As he has been to West Point, tho’, I suppose he necessarily knows everything about it. We are doing nothing here, and will do nothing. The army is dying….Set this down in your book, and set down opposite to it its epitaph, ‘died of West Point.’ ”

A week later, Toombs turned his ire more directly toward the president. “Davis is here,” he confided to Stephens. “His generals are fooling [him] about the strength of our force in order to shield their inactivity. [Davis] talks of activity on the Potomac but I fear he does not feel it strong enough to move this inert mass.”

Colonel Thomas W.?Thomas of the 15th?Georgia also derided Davis, writing that “Pres. Davis was up the other day and reviewed about 12,000 troops at Fairfax Court House. There was not a single cheer, even when some one in the crowd among the staff called out for three cheers there was not a single response, everything was as cold as funeral meats.”

The volatile issue of conscription soon shattered relations between Davis, Congress and the state governors. Virginia Governor John Letcher declared conscription “the most alarming stride towards consolidation that has ever occurred,” but conceeded he would not fight Davis because the alternative would be ruin. Not so Georgia Governor Joe Brown, who believed that the draft was a measure aimed at destroying the states. “If the State Regiments are broken up, and the conscripts belonging to them forced into other organizations against their consent,” Brown told Davis, “it will have a very discouraging effect….This Act, not only disorganizes the military system of all the States, but consolidates almost the entire military system of the State in the Confederate Executive, with the appointment of the officers of the militia, and enables him at his pleasure, to cripple or destroy the civil government of each State, by arresting, and carrying into the Confederate Service, the officers charged by the State Constitution.”

Davis was incensed. “I have received your letter,” he wrote Brown, “informing me of your transfer of the Georgia State troops to General [Alexander] Lawton commanding Confederate forces at Savannah suggesting that there be as little interference as possible on the part of the Confederate authorities with the present organization of those troops….Interference with the present organization of companies, squadrons, battalions, or regiments tendered by Governors of States, is specially disclaimed.” So began a bitter fight.

Davis never knew where or when the next divisive issue would pop up. Governer Henry Rector of Arkansas fueled the Confederacy’s internal problems, for example, when he wanted to pull his state away from the Confederacy in the summer of 1862. His state would not, Rector declared in a proclamation, “remain a confederate State, desolated as a wilderness.”

Rector threatened to build “a new ark and launch it on new waters, seeking a haven somewhere, of equality, safety, and rest.” Responding to Rector’s proclamation, Governor Francis Lubbock of Texas wrote the president, reassuring him as best he could that support would come from the Deep South. “This is no time for bickerings, heart-burnings, and divisions among a people struggling for existence as a free Government,” Lubbock wrote.

The issue persisted throughout that year, and Davis lectured Congress at the beginning of 1863 that “You can best devise the means for establishing that entire cooperation of the Sate and central governments which is essential to the well-being of both….”

His admonition fell on deaf ears, for on February 5, 1863, the Senate heard a proposed amendment to the Confederate constitution that would allow an aggrieved state to secede from the Confederacy. “It shall do so in peace,” read the proposal, “but shall be entitled to its pro rata share of property and be liable for its pro rata share of public debt to be determined by negotiation.” The plan was referred to the Judicial Committee. Two days later senators failed to recommend the amendment, and the idea was dropped as being too dangerous.

Sickly Vice President Alexander Stephens was another snake in the grass Davis had to deal with. Early in the war, Stephens had returned to his home in Crawfordville Ga., to conspire and orchestrate a campaign against the president. “What is wanting in Richmond is ‘brains,’ Howell Cobb, a Georgia general officer who had been president of the Confederate Provisional Congress and a likely candidate for Davis’ job, wrote to the vice president. “I did not find the temper and disposition of Congress as bad as I expected, but there is a lamentable want of brains and good sound common sense.”

Lawrence Keitt wrote his wife that he had heard “Toombs is on the stump in Geo., and is arraigning Davis in a terrible manner.” He added: “I have always feared the divisions, which I saw would spring up among us. You cannot have liason—connexion [sic]—unity—among a planting community. Too many Revolutions have shipwrecked upon internal division. This Revolution proves that canonized imbecility is but a straw before the wrath of masses—it seems to be a law of humanity that generation after generation must rescue its liberties from the insidious grasp of a foe without or within. In our case, we have to seize them from both foes—we have a worthless government, and are reduced to the humiliation of acknowledging it, because we cannot, with safety, shake it.”
...

My belief that most of the problems that now hag-ride my country could have been avoided if William Tecumseh Sherman had had tactical nuclear weapons remains undiminished.

12 comments:

bowtiejack said...

My personal rough analysis runs something like this: a population is a mix of lots of different types. You will have a certain percentage of redheads, left handers, tall people, short people, gays, blacks, latinos, and so on, and a certain percentage of assholes. The USA is exceptional (sic) in that our assholes are largely (but not entirely) clotted together in one area of the country and in the belief that everyone is supposed to be a white protestant (northern European division) Christian. Demographic analysis shows just how doomed this latter view is which has caused them to once again slip over that line between being assholes and going batshit insane. These people are the mold in the walls of democracy. You're right about Sherman.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

@Drifty: Nukes? You have heard of a little thing called fallout?

Living in the Southland, one is swamped with Civil War sore losers, but until I started reading your blog, I never knew there were any Civil War sore winners.

You do know that y'all won that damfool war, right? xD

Edward Bernays had not even been born, nor did radio and TV exist. The level of brainwashing technology which would have been required to convert Southern paleface mentality in the way you dream of doing simply did not exist.

The best thing for y'all to have done would have been to say: "Don't let the door hit your butts on the way out."

Because of the infighting and the hypertrophic states' rights mentality mentioned in the passage you quoted, had the Union just let the Confederacy go, the Union could have picked the Southern states back up, one by one, over a few decades as their political and economic systems failed, all without shedding nearly as much Northern blood.

However, that would have meant allowing the corrupt, amoral Southern misruling class to default on its massive debts to the corrupt, amoral Northern misruling class--[snark] and of course, Payment Of Debt Is Sacred. [/snark]

Chan Kobun said...

And as always, the Lost Cause is taken up by DG's favorite Confederate Rightist Revanchist, here to remind us that The North Was Also Bad, Therefore Our Host Should Be Told To Shut Up On His Own Site.

And now that I have pointed out his mistake, the little treason-defender will puke up some randomized pseudo-insult that he thinks will make up for his sputtering defense of the ownership of other human beings.

John MacCuish said...

So, they have been worried about Jade Helm for 155 years. Seems like bringing them around to sanity may take a while longer -- just a few millennia.

Thanks for the post! This is history I did not know, and it explains a lot from 1865 to the present day. Maybe it's the water? Dogwood blossoms? A particularly virulent strain of Scots-Irish that settled much of the South pre-Civil War? Removing entitlement is a long and bitter fight? Oh fiddle-dee-dee, I don't know.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

How was I telling Drifty to shut up?

I referred to the slave-owners as "corrupt" and "amoral". One does not normally use those words for people whom one is trying to defend.

I also speculated that the Confederacy, feckless thing that it was, would have failed all by itself if the Union had let it go. Does that sound like admiration of the Confederacy?

I do wonder how Chan manages to find things in my posts which I did not put into them.

The Civil War, like WW2 and the Cold War, was a triumph of a lesser evil over a greater evil. (WW1 featured roughly the same level of evil on both sides; Imperial Germany was not Nazi Germany.)

As for "defense of treason", the horror at "treason" assumes that there is some great virtue in obedience to the particular criminal gang which controls the specific region of the Earth's surface on which one was born, and some great vice in disobedience to that gang, aka "treason".

Of course, there are several well-known practical disadvantages to disobeying the regnant gang of criminals, but that does not mean that treason is immoral, merely imprudent.

Does Chan think the State (that is, the institution serving as cover for the regnant gang of criminals) is the shadow of the Divine upon Earth, and so disobedience to the State is not merely unwise, but also sinful?

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

@Johnny Mac: Much of what is wrong with my ethno-cultural group comes from the fact that many of our ancestors tended to come from the areas of the UK that had not gotten very far out of feudalism, and so we were, and to a troublesome extent still are, habituated to anarchy, or hemi-anarchy at least.

Also, until cheap electricity and air conditioning became available, the South had a very unattractive climate, minimizing settlement by non-UK European settlers, producing a rather stultifying uniformity of thought and custom, compared to the North. Of course, the concentration of industry--and so jobs--in the North also caused the majority of European immigrants to go to the Northern states.

John MacCuish said...

@Ivory A sort of Germs Microbes Steel and Mind of the South mashup? I can go with that :*)

DeistPaladin said...

Maybe not tactical nuclear weapons but certainly a much firmer hand.

The Southern aristocrats who were the main instigators of the act of treason should have been dispossessed, their lands seized as war reparations (given in turn to former slaves as reparations for slavery). A large number of their leaders should have been tried for treason. The confederate flag and any other evocative images should be regarded as treasonous. Absolutely no construction of confederate memorials would be allowed. The "Civil War" should be known as the "War of Aristocratic Treason". Our placation of the south only allowed the issues behind the treasonous actions of the "Southern Aristocrats" to fester, affecting us even in the present day.

If I believed in reincarnation, it would be easy for me to conclude that Obama is Lincoln reborn and playing out the same quasi-Shakespearean tragedy. Obama's tragic flaw is the same as Lincoln's, the delusion that all differences can be healed if only we are patient and reasonable. Lincoln didn't survive to guide reconstruction but all indications are that he would have been every bit as light-handed if not more so. Obama demonstrated the same naive compulsion to be the country's gentle healer even as the neo-Confederates made it clear that no olive branches would ever dissuade them from making it their stated #1 mission to ruin his presidency, no matter the cost to the nation.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

DP seems to share Chan's apparent belief that "treason"--that is, disobedience to whatever gang of glorified thieves is operating under the name of "the State" in one's geographic area--is a heinous offense, deserving of the direst penalties.

Once upon a time, I probably believed that as well. (Hell, I was a quasi-Randroid once; I do not claim lifelong freedom from gullibility.) -_^

I now classify belief in the moral virtue of loyalty to the misruling class--as distinct from recognition of the prudence of obedience to the misruling class, as long as they hold their power, but not one second longer than that--in the same category as belief in the Easter Bunny.

Chan Kobun said...

Sweetie, the past doesn't stop existing because you wish it so. We know you're a Southist scumbag, we know you're an overgrown college-kid who didn't learn a goddamned fucking thing, we know you're a bigot, a racist, a Lost Cause garbage-hauler, not to mention your endless "everyone in power is BadEvilWrong because I say so" attitude that makes you sound like the overgrown child you are.

Nor do you get to decide what your words mean if my explanation, one borne from the wisdom you so actively avoid gaining, offends you. If you don't like my take on your bullshit ideas, perhaps you should examine your bullshit ideas instead of blaming everyone else for not falling for whatever bullshit idea has shaped your worthless prattle today.

Now do us all a favor and just get out. You are as unwelcome as your old friend Lumpy and nowhere near as entertaining.

DG, if you want this human garbage to keep polluting your site, just tell us so rather than passively allowing him to shit up every post. You've thrown people out for less - why do you continue to let him undermine everything you post with his endless whining and cinderblock-throwing? And don't give me this "we have to welcome opposing ideas" shit people love to pull - he has no ideas, just opposition and inchoate rage against everyone and everything that doesn't meet his standards.

He.
Is.
A.
Troll.

If you don't believe that, even as you regularly fustigate mainstream media hacks and Rightist pigs who say exactly the same things with much larger audiences, then you have a serious logical disconnect.

Chan Kobun said...

I'd also like to point out that I FUCKING CALLED IT.

driftglass said...

Aaaaaand we're done