This part of a series of articles the NYT is doing on The Civil War, Texas Catches Fire
Texas historians believe that about one-third of Texans, actively or passively, supported the Union as war unfurled. The common man, however, did not get a Union commission as general. Instead, he usually got a threat. On May 25, 1861, a self-appointed Committee of Safety left an otherwise anonymous letter for a Mr. A. Newman, suspected of harboring abolitionist views: “Leave the country at once … else you will be dealt with according to mob law.”
In Cooke County, north of Dallas, a Unionist organization known as the Peace Party began to form in secret. But a drunken party leader revealed the group’s plans and Confederate officers penetrated the organization. The news spread like wildfire and ignited rumors of Unionists planning arson and murder. The population took matters into its own hands and hanged 25 Unionists without a trial. A little later a trial was held for others, where more than 40 were hanged.
In another post I mentioned the German abolitionists in Missouri. Abolitionist Germans were also present in Texas. They were actively opposed to slavery, to conscription in the Texas Confederate military and to secession. Abolitionist of every stripe were hunted down. Some were shot on site whether they resisted or not, while many were hanged without any kind of hearing.
They’re everywhere. As one might expect there were a couple of Confederate apologists claiming the Civil War was not about slavery, but was all about state’s rights. Someone might want to dig up vice-president of the Confederacy Alexander H. Stephens (1812-1883) and tell him. Stephens wrote, Cornerstone Address, March 21, 1861
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other-though last, not least: the new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among us-the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it-when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”
Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. [Applause.] This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It is so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North who still cling to these errors with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind; from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is, forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics: their conclusions are right if their premises are.
The same people also seem to be confused about the evolution of the political parties – i.e. modern Republican cannot be racists because Lincoln was a Republican. It many arguments than and now it would be best to understand the ideological divide to be liberals of the day versus conservatives. Hard to believe but things have changed in the last 100 years. One of those changes was the realignment of the political parties along more accurate ideological lines. Generally, Democrats have become or gone back to their liberal roots as the Democratic-Republican Party of Jefferson. While Dixiecrats have become Republicans or conservatives. It is modern conservatives who echoes the Antebellum South with talk about secession, nullification and state’s rights.
Another unfortunate comment, which reminded me of others was a northern liberal making some absurd generalization about Texans. If you can find some good history texts you’ll find that progressives have a long history in Texas. Austin is to this day one of the more progressive minded cities in the country( also see German immigrants above). progressives did have some stumbles along the way. In the early part of the 20th century Texas progressives tried to clean up the corruption in government, but were also in favor of Prohibition.
It is easy to counter the argument that humans are autonomous, isolated entities with no need for relationships with other humans. To the contrary, we are, and always have been, social creatures, reliant on others for our lives, our development and our survival.
Using the evolution of human cooperation and the fact that such a social invention was a requirement for the survival of species of primates is an interesting tack to take. Cooperation is something we take for granted. For the most part you can walk down the street without being attacked or stolen from because of the social contract. You cannot say that it a phenomenon that rises purely from the philosophy of individualism above all because many of the people we encounter are strangers. We have no individual social contract in that regard.
None of the goods provided through government come free. They must be paid for, and the fairest way we have found to pay these costs is to tax everyone at a “reasonable” rate. I realize there are great differences regarding what is “reasonable,”and that our existing tax system has many injustices, but that does not mean we can simply say no more taxes, or suggest as Rand does that taxation is theft. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”
Holmes was also making a round about historical observation – no civilization has ever lasted that did not have taxes. One does not even have to look at taxes as paying for someone else, but as the individual paying for what they use and what they benefit from by way of those taxes.
Rand and other libertarians argue that markets are, and must be, “free.” Yet no market has ever existed without rules and referees, any more than you can have a football game without rules and referees. In the earliest markets in small, lightly populated villages, the rules were usually set by social custom. Someone who cheated would be ostracized, even exiled, if they did not pay back the person they had cheated and promise not to do it again.
One would think the recent financial collapse would have been yet another in a long line of financial calamities in the US and around the world since the Industrial Revolution, that screamed the necessity of regulation. The sporting analogy would be a some fans rioting, beating each other and burning down the stadium. Nope, conservatives and Right leaning libertarians became even more belligerent about ending regulation and resisting regulation that would prevent another collapse. It is equally strange that the same zealots, who say they put great value on empowering the individual would fight so hard to keep such vast amounts of political and financial power in the hands of the financial elite. That might not be hypocritical if they see those elite as some kind of modern John Galts who they all consider their moral and intellectual superiors.