Wednesday, June 16, 2004

(and make a little money for my friends)

by Al Benson Jr.

We have been fed so much baloney over the years about the reasons for the War of Northern Aggression that you almost get sick of listening to some of them. We have been told that the war was fought so the South could keep her slaves. The fact that she could have done this by remaining in the Union is never mentioned--and the establishment "historians" hope you never think enough about it to bring it up. The more inane and transparent the slavery question becomes the more its proponents push it--almost to the level of irrationality. It's like, for them, the only issue in the world that has ever existed or ever will exist is one over a slavery that died over 140 years ago. Slavery in Africa today, forget that, it's not relevant to the slavery question. You can't beat white Southerners
over the head with present-day African slavery so it's just not important.

Then there are those that seek to take a somewhat more realistic approach to the question and they state that Lincoln inaugurated and fought the war to preserve the Union. The question then naturally arises, who was he preserving it for, certainly not "we the people."

In his book "North Against South" Professor Emeritus of History at the College of William and Mary, Ludwell H. Johnson, has observed, in regard to the war that: "The Republicans could recruit their ranks by using the war as a bountiful source of patronage, as well as by accomodating the various interests that had rallied to their banner. Many people at every social and political level regarded the Union cause primarily as an opportunity to make money or to advance their public careers, or both." Not to be outdone, the federal government, on March 3, 1863, passed the Captured and Abandoned Property Act. Professor Johnson has noted that "The latter's main concern was cotton, and its execution confirmed Southerners in their belief that the real object of the war was to rob them. Property of a non-warlike nature taken by Federal forces was regarded as 'captured'; property whose owners were absent, presumably within Confederate lines, was considered 'abandoned.' The Treasury Department was responsible for its collection or administration. This led to a great proliferation of the department's bureaucracy,..." And Johnson continued: "The full extent of fraud perpetrated by these swarms of agents will never be known. In corrup collusion with army officers, they got up expeditions whose sole purpose was to capture cotton." So, between Yankee bureaucrats and corrupt Yankee officers, they were all going to make a bundle off Southern misery. It could well be said of them that, in their support for the Union, "their hypocrisy knew no bounds."

The ill-fated Red River Campaign of Yankee General Commissary Banks was a prime example. In his interesting book "War Along the Bayous" author William Riley Brooksher has told us that: "Despite Banks' strenuous efforts to control activities involving cotton, Washington and (Rear Admiral) Porter together were too much for him. So pervasive was the scramble for cotton and so broad was the influence of some speculators that even Banks' own headquarters boat had brought a 'whole regiment' of speculators, most 'bearing licenses from Washington.' Everybody seemed to be in on the act as civilians and a portion of the military scrambled for cotton taking it with little regard for ownership or the needs of the expedition. So determined and desperate were they for transportation for their bonanza that cotton was piled on gunboats and coal barges emptied to make room for it. The use of threats and bribes was not overlooked either." Brooksher relates the story of one naval lieutenant, patrolling the mouth of the Red River, who was offered another stripe if he would let cotton through and he was threatened with dismissal if he wouldn't. Rear Admiral Porter had his hand in the pot too. He detailed several vessels to go out collecting cotton. In fact the Navy was so much into grabbing Southern cotton that according to Army Captain John S. Cooney it "was about the principle thing the navy did." One observer rather cynically noted that while the army did all the dirty work fighting the Confederates, the Navy then rolled in, once the fighting was over, picked up all the Southern cotten they could get their hands on, and they got one third of the money it brought in as a prize, while all the soldiers that slogged through the bayous and fought the Confederates got nothing, except casualties. As I said earlier, it really makes you wonder who Mr. Lincoln was "preserving the Union" for.

Such situations demonstrate an ongoing trend in the Lincoln administration--the blending of big government and big business, something we still struggle under today--a kind of coroprate fascism.
Frank Conner has noted in "The South Under Siege 1830-2000" that Northern capitalists "turned increasingly to the federal government to pay the high peripheral costs of industrializing the US." And Professor Thomas DiLorenzo in "The Real Lincoln" observed that, at the war's end "Government became more militaristic and began a quest for empire; myriad socialistic income and wealth-transfer schemes were adopted(and are still being adopted); and the Jeffersonian notion that 'that government governs best which governs least' was abandoned in favor of today's philsophy that nothing--not even the rules of golf--should be beyond the control of the federal government."

So Lincoln "preserved the Union" and the incomes of his fat cat establishment friends, but only the Almighty fully comprehends the cost of that to the rest of us. And today we live in a culture and with a government "education" system, both of which must be seceded from if we are ever to have any chance at making things better for our grandchildren or their children.

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