Monday, 21 October 2013

Falsities, Lies, and Damned Lies

We listen to Glen Beck every now and then, agreeing much of the time, and tiring quickly as he wades into trite interpretations of history, thought to be true because they are repeated authoritatively and frequently, but that are deadly, maliciously wrong.
     On this date, we had to listen to the horrid caning of a poor innocent Senator from Massachusetts who was sitting at his desk on the Senate floor at the end of a session, addressing letters to his constituents.   He was brutally beaten, nearly to death by a younger man, a Congressman from South Carolina with a weighty walking cane, popular at the time, of course, as weapons.   Why, at times the canes disguised the fact that the rapier's blade was conceal within, or even the ball of a .41 calibre rifled pistol cartridge.  Horrors!!
     The Senator from Massachusetts was a loudmouth abolitionist who assumed his own virtues as perfect and the faults of others as justification to destroy the lives of whomsoever he pleased.  In this case we have Sumner, not addressing mail to constituents, but rather marking envelopes with his franking stamp.  He was famous for sending his private mail out with the publicly paid for "Senators' Privilege".   Glen's tale follows the usual mainstream media reports of the day about the incident, although they were false.   Please regard the news of the day:

The Caning of Senator Charles Sumner:
     One of the most violent episodes in congressional history took place in this chamber on May 22, 1856. The Senate was not in session when South Carolina Representative Preston S. Brooks entered the chamber to avenge the insults that Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner had levelled at Brooks' cousin, Senator Andrew P. Butler. Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech of May 19-20 was sharply critical, on a personal level, of Butler and several other senators who had supported the "popular sovereignty" provisions of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. Sumner was addressing copies of the speech at his desk when Brooks began his attack, striking the northern senator repeatedly with a walking cane, which splintered with the force of the blows.
    Although two House members intervened to end the assault, Sumner, who had ripped his desk loose from the bolts holding it to the floor in his effort to escape, was rendered unconscious. He regained consciousness shortly after the attack, but it would be three years before he felt able to resume his senatorial duties.      The caning of Senator Sumner signalled the end of an era of compromise and sectional accommodation in the Senate, further heightening the discord that culminated in war after eleven southern states seceded from the Union during the winter of 1860-1861.

     We should like to briefly correct the record.  It was because Senator Sumner, who was a jackass, had spoken thusly against one of the most honourable men on the Senate floor:

       As an inclusion for their support of allowing a vote on Kansas's entry into the Union as a slave or free State, Sumner identified two Democratic senators as the principal culprits in this crime—Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina.  He characterized Douglas to his face as a "noise-some, squat, and nameless animal . . . not a proper model for an American senator."  Andrew Butler, who was not present, received more elaborate treatment.  Mocking the South Carolina senator's stance as a man of chivalry, the Massachusetts senator charged him with taking "a mistress . . . who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean," added Sumner, "the harlot, Slavery."

    A South Carolina Congressman by the name of Preston Brooks, a cousin of Andrew Butler, went to the floor, with a flexible dog-whip...something akin to a quirt, and that was used to discipline hunting dogs to maintain their attention on the quail and not the girls.  The Yankee press, un-schooled in the innuendo of people who had a complex, if out-dated notion of chivalry and honour,  did not pick up on the dog-whip thing.   They heard it was a cane, and it became a cane.
     Senator Butler was an elderly man, and his cousin much younger, although Congressman Brooks was known to be quite ill at the time.  Brooks went onto the floor of the Senate and demanded satisfaction for the insulting remarks about his cousin.   Sumner laughed and waved him off, with a back-hand wave as if quitting a fly.   With that insult, Mr. Brooks whacked the arrogant, boorish Senator twice on the forehead, and said something to the effect that he will never use the name of Andrew Butler again for any purpose, or worse would befall him.  In the meantime a frightened and cowardly Sumner stumbled out of his chair, and while attempting to flee, fell striking the side of his forehead upon the corner of his desk, dislodging the ink well, and falling in a heap of ink, blood, and blubber.
     Brooks strode out calmly.  Two other members from the Lower House who happened to be nearby came to help the hapless Senator from his embarrassment.  Later, the Senator allowed himself to be carried to the infirmary...pretending to be unconscious because of the "brutal beating".   To complete the tale, Sumner convalesced for three years, although there is not one comment from any source that would indicate that he was in any wise diminished.   He was simply milking the fame invented by the press, like (Sir Edmund)Hillary's "intestinal flu", "broken jaw", and "brain concussion" spiral of sequential mendacious medical magic of more recent note. (Some have said that Rhett Butler of Gone With the Wind was a character inspired to Margaret Mitchell by the "caning incident".)

     The truth of this is the fact that Sumner maintained active contact with the Capitol, frequently communicating with expensive telegraphics, while the critically ill Mr. Brooks resigned, although acquitted of charges by the Lower House for conduct unbecoming, and then was re-elected to his same seat.   He died of the consumption shortly before the end of that term and the outbreak of the War Between the States.

     But the Union side won the war, and the winners write the history.   The advantage of being an old curmudgeon is that I am too old and useless to punish at this point.   I have nothing that anybody would want to take from, save most of my family members.  Therefore El Gringo Viejo can speak the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.  El Gringo Viejo can write the truth about History.

     The notion that Lincoln was somehow moved by his love of the Black man to launch into a War against slavery is ludicrous.  Lincoln could not have done such a thing because he was a consummate politician, ever mindful of the political currents and "popularity".   His closest allies were not the nut-case abolitionists, and certainly they were not the stuffy, anachronistic slave holders and traders beyond the Ohio and Potomac Rivers to the South.  He did find a safe harbour between those two poles;   the capitalists. 

     One thing capitalists hate more than anything is disorganised, inefficient, and prosperous small businesses and people who are not dependent upon....the capitalist.   New York and Philadelphia capitalists, bankers, and lawyers love to conscript the prole class into debt, material desire, and the 'treadmill", or at least the "revolving hamster cage".
    Another thing the capitalists hate...along with their brothers  the bankers and free markets.  They want their industries protected from imports and they want to use the American Navy and military to force funny looking foreigners to buy American products.
     Another think capitalists like is to make everybody have to use what the capitalist want them to one common gauge of rail for the railroads.

     So the existence of a pool of labour, being dealt with in an archaic manner, with miniscule wages, and modest benefits, and no personal sovereignty, who seem to be largely satisfied with their crummy lot in life really drove the capitalists in the North absolutely bonquers.   The capitalists just absolutely knew that they could take advantage of those complacent labourers much more efficiently than a bunch of lacksidaisical Southern pseudo-aristocrats.
    And let's not even talk about the Southern upper-class and middle class favouring the notion of free trade.   Just because they exported more value with their rice, cotton, tobacco, sugar, molasses, rum, and myriad of other products. even including some finished goods, than the entire Yankee economy exporeted with its fancy factories, did not give the Southerners the right to dictate foreign economic relations.   And besides, with all that tobacco, rice, King Cotton, sugar and other products, the Southerners could buy any foreign products they wanted, and the Crowns abroad really liked the quality and treatment the States in the South provided.   The Southerners did not charge duties.   The charged nothing  beyond harbourage and pilot service.  It was only the useless Central Government of the United States that charged tariffs, excise, and other taxes at the ports of entry.   New Orleans dwarfed New York in terms of activity and recovery of lucre for the government in Washington, D.C.

     Read what comfortable words speak Truth to the issue.   This is meant for all those who love Father Abraham....because to love Father Abraham is akin to loving Father Obamaham.   To wit:

Economic Factors Leading to the War of Northern Aggression 
by James W. Jackson <= (click)
One of the quarrels between the North and the South concerned taxes (tariffs) paid on goods brought into this country from foreign countries. Southerners thought those tariffs  unfair and were aimed specifically at them, as the South imported a wider variety of goods than Northern people. Moreover, Southern exporters sometimes had to pay higher amounts for shipping their goods overseas and to pay unequal tariffs imposed by foreign countries on some of their goods.  Also, Southern banks paid higher interest rates on loans made with banks in the North. The inequities grew worse after several "panics," including one in 1857 that affected more Northern banks than Southern. Southern financiers found themselves burdened with high payments to save Northern banks that had suffered financial losses through poor investments. These small annoyances were insufficient to cause a major breach between the two parties, with the exception of the tariffs.
As there was no federal income or other direct tax, the federal government depended on indirect taxes as its primary sources of revenue. Most 'duties, imposts, and excises' were collected at ports throughout the United States; ports monitored by Federal garrisons. For the thirty years from 1831 to 1860 the tariffs amounted to about eighty-four per cent of federal revenues, but during the 1850s tariffs amounted to ninety per cent of federal revenue. As the ports in the South had the most traffic, they paid seventy-five per cent of all tariffs in 1859. For example:
"New Orleans was the largest city in the South and was the centre of the cotton & sugar export. Trade products of the Mississippi River Valley were shipped for sale to New Orleans and almost 2,000 sea-going vessels and 3,500 river steamers with tonnage of 1,200,000 tons entered the port of New Orleans during the year before the war." (Confederate Finance and Supply, W. Power Clancy, Cincinnati Civil War Round Table.)
The tax imbalance which benefitted the North at the expense of the South grew even more lopsided under the Buchanan administration. The Morrill Tariff was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President  Buchanan on March, 1861, just two days before Buchanan left office and Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. The new law made some significant changes in how duties were assessed on goods entering the country, and it also raised rates. This new tariff had been written and sponsored by Justin Smith Morrill, a Congressman from Vermont. Southern states were opposed to the new tariff, because the  law clearly favoured industries based in the northeast and further penalize the southern states, heavy importers and exporters of European goods. Moreover, the Morrill Tariff was unpopular in England, which imported cotton from the South, and in turn exported goods to the South, and surprisingly in New York City, the largest port in the North. In 1860, ad valorem taxes — tariffs on imported goods collected at ports — provided $56 million of the $64.6 million of federal revenue, much of which came from New York City. The cities and states with large ports would certainly prefer to keep the tariff revenue for themselves, rather than have the money go to Washington. Secession would allow the states and New York City to do just that. New York City’s Mayor Fernando Wood announced that if the country was going to break apart anyway, he would like his city to secede not only from “this foreign power” of the State of New York, but also from the “odious and oppressive connection” with the Federal government.
In 1861, after intense debates and state-wide votes, seven states passed secession ordinances, while secession efforts failed in the other eight slave states. Following declarations of secession, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbour. South Carolina wanted control of the harbour and of the revenue it produced.  U.S. forces occupied  Fort Sumter, a fortress controlling the entrance of Charleston Harbour. An earlier  attempt by U.S. President  Buchanan to reinforce and resupply Ft. Sumter using an unarmed merchant ship, failed when she was turned away by shore batteries on January 9, 1861. South Carolina authorities then seized all Federal property in the Charleston area, except for occupied Fort Sumter.
On January 28, 1861 the Senators from the seceding states made their final speeches in Senate chamber before leaving Washington. Senator Alfred Iverson of Georgia spoke these  memorable words:
"You may acquiesce in the revolution, and acknowledge the independence of the new confederacy, or you may make war on the seceding States, and attempt to force them back into a Union with you. If you acknowledge our independence, and treat us as one of the nations of the earth, you can have friendly intercourse with us; you can have an equitable division of the public property and of the existing public debt of the United States. If you make war upon us, we will seize and hold all the public property within our borders or within our reach."
 Undoubtedly, Senator Iverson was referring to the lucrative ports; the value of exports through the Port of Savannah alone exceed $20 million in 1860.
The resupply of Fort Sumter became the first crisis of the administration of President Lincoln. He notified the Governor of South Carolina, that he was sending in supply ships, which resulted in an ultimatum from the newly formed Confederate government: evacuate Fort Sumter immediately. Lincoln set a trap in the Ft. Sumter standoff by sending  the supply ship into harms way, provoking the South to fire the first shot. They did. That first shot fired by the South galvanized Northern support for the Union, but it also caused  other southern states to join the Confederacy.  On April 13, the fort was surrendered and evacuated. The die was cast. The tidal wave of support for the Union overwhelmed Southern sentiment in the North. New York City, alongside the rest of the North, proclaimed its loyalty to the Government in Washington.
Five days after the evacuation of Ft Sumter, Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of the seven seceding States (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana,  Mississippi, and Texas). The proclamation stated that to protect the "combination of persons, public  peace and the lives and  property of quiet and orderly citizens" Lincoln ordered a blockade  of the ports of these states in insurrection. The choice by Lincoln, a lawyer, to use the word blockade was a puzzle to Europeans...a nation blockades it own ports? Blockade is an agency of war only between independent nations, a nation closes it insurrectionary ports and blockades the ports of an enemy nation. Lincoln had raised the ante, the Southern states were not in insurrection but were identified by Washington as belligerent.
Eight days later, the President issued another decree extending the blockade to include North Carolina and Virginia, making the blockade complete from Cape Henry to the Mexican border. Virginia and North Carolina were cast as belligerent, even though they had not seceded from the Union. They soon did.
To the question as to why Lincoln simply did not 'let the erring sisters go and depart in peace', the prospect of losing three quarters of the Federal revenue stream obviously played a major role in his decision.  Certainly, other factors contributed to the war, but as history is written by the winners, it is totally unsurprising that Northern writers latched on to the high moral issue of ending slavery, rather than more complicated  issues, which  might favour the Southern cause. For example, in September of 1862, President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect January 1, 1863, and free slaves in those states or regions still in rebellion against the Union. If any southern state returned to the Union between September and January, whites in that state would not lose ownership of their slaves. Clearly, the federal government was more interested in regaining power over the run-away states than in freeing slaves. The Northern banner of  "Preserve the Union," might have more accurately read "Preserve the Taxes".
In conclusion, as the crisis between the North and the South reached the critical stage at Ft Sumter in April, Lincoln could have avoided war by abandoning the fort to the South Carolina government and allowing the seven succeeding states to keep their ports. True, the federal government would have had  to find sources of revenue, other than tariffs,  to avoid bankruptcy (something the war forced them to do anyway), but certainly a less costly option than the devastating war that followed.
Moreover, historians and others who cling to conventional views of the war's causes seem never able to untangle themselves from their contradictions.
     And all of the above does not even begin to take into consideration that the Northern Capitalists were adamant about forcing the Southern railroads to abandon English gauge.   To wit:
The gauge of 4'8.5" was always adopted by more new railways than any other, but from the late
1830s to the early 1860s the proportion of new mileage built to that gauge steadily dropped from 87 per cent to 44 per cent. This decline was due both to the introduction of broad gauges and to the relatively faster growth of regional networks using 4' 10" and 5'0". As a result, the 4'8.5'' gauge's share of mileage in service declined over the same period from 80 to 55 per cent. 
    The first sentence of the above paragraph points out that what is now American Standard Gauge began to drop from 1830 to 1860 from 87% to 44% of all new mileage rail construction.    The OROG can imagine what the Coast to Coast, Damn the Indians capitalists thought about breaking loads going into Tennessee and points South, just because a bunch of feudalistic hayseeds  saw the rails as serving humans of different Duchies, instead of lugging lead ingots from industrial centre to industrial centre.
     These are the backers of Mr. Lincoln's vision of America.  He won.  We lost.
Lamentably, in winning the War,  the city of Washington, D. C. became the centre of sovereignty, and the individual began to become more like an inconvenience to efficiency.
Enough for now.  More Later.
El Gringo Viejo