From the 2005 Abbeville Institute Summer School.

My subject is the Northern Reign of Terror in the Summer of 1861. But before we get to the actual atrocities, I have to set up why they happened by getting into the mind, not of the whole North, but of the Republican North. There is much evidence that Republicans conceived the War, even before it began, as a contest over which people would possess the seat of national power, collect the sums of tribute, and dictate policy. Before even the second Cotton State had left the Union, the Buffalo Morning Express prophesied: “The mighty hosts of the far North will sweep over the region of Slavery with a power that cannot be resisted.”[1] The editorial bristled with martial nouns marching under the banners of Northern crusade. The men of the North would haul down the “piratical colors” now waving over the traitors of South Carolina, and chastise them for slighting Northern prowess and devaluing Northern blood. This kind of language became more frequent once the armies took to the fields for exercise and maneuver. The Indianapolis Daily Journal observed with satisfaction that “the Northern legions have rushed to arms and rallied to the preservation of the Republic.”[2] This noble exhibition of Northern unity was not for the president, but for the nation. The Erie Weekly Gazette conceived it to be a war of honor necessary “to avenge the insult to our national flag and vindicate the honor of the National character” represented by the attack on Sumter.[3] But to whose honour were the editors referring? That it was Northern honour is indicated by the locus of indignation. The Wisconsin Daily State Journal asked with incredulity if the South really believed they could get away with defiling the flag and forcing Major Anderson and his gallant men to bend under the yoke of Southern pride. “Do they think Northern men are a race of cowards?”[4] The Bangor Daily Evening Times was sure of it: “They consider us their inferiors in all the elements of manhood, in civilization, and social life, and hold us in utter contempt….Nothing but the sharp encounter and shock in the field can teach these arrogant, conceited, and insolent men their error.”[5] The Columbus Daily Capital City Fact of Ohio, announced that it was time to stand up for “Northern rights, Northern honor, Northern self-respect.”[6] The Boston Saturday Evening Gazette was gladdened that, at last, “the power of the North now manifests itself.”[7] The occasional absence of the Northern modifier does not mean it was not there, implicit in all the nouns of flag, nation, and government. Northern nation. Northern flag. Northern government. After all, once the rebellious States had moved South, all that remained belonged to the North. The North was now the nation, the flag its own, the government theirs, the revenue to be credited to the Bank of the North. “We are fighting for the existence of our own Government,” declared the Indianapolis Journal, leaving no doubt about ownership.[8] Sometimes an editor would, perhaps, be too explicit, as when the Philadelphia North American looked forward to the day when “the northern man will be recognized for what he is—the true founder of our national glory and greatness.”[9]

There were practical matters to fight over also, and none seemed more important to the Republican press, excepting the tariff, than the Mississippi River. Whether the paper was published in a northwestern or eastern city made no difference. All agreed that the control of the Mississippi could not be allowed to pass to the South. Reassurances and protestations of Confederate leaders that they would not obstruct the free navigation of the river were dismissed out of hand. Mere possession was held to be sufficient cause for war. The Cincinnati Gazette stated the principle with all the clarity of a rifle shot: “The mouth of the Mississippi will not pass into the hands of a foreign power.”[10] When the Montgomery Convention in February gave assurances that the new government would not hinder commercial navigation of the Father of Waters, the Chicago Daily Tribune noted that nothing was said about commercial facilities in New Orleans being provided free of charge. That was the crux. The paper pointed out that the Confederacy would be obliged under international law to allow Northern shipping, but they were not obligated to provide free access to docks for unloading and reloading cargo, or warehouses for storing merchandise, or to refrain from inspecting or taxing the same. Without that privilege, all else was a sham. Besides, the editor suggested, nothing would satisfy them except the retention of both banks of the Mississippi and the possession of the city of New Orleans. Who did the people of Louisiana think they were anyway?

“The free navigation of the Mississippi will never become the subject of treaty between the people of the Northwest and any other people whatsoever. It will never be accepted as a gratuity. It is their right, and they will assert it to the extremity of blotting Louisiana out of the map.”[11] (emphasis original)

So, they’re getting angry. This is before the war started. What was the most important casus belli in the mind of the Republican North? The whole establishment says it was slavery, ending slavery. There’s a minority of scholars who will say the preservation of the Union was the real cause. My research revealed that both are wrong. It was simple and straightforward: it was a war for government. There are fifty times as many references in this period to the need to “preserve the government” as there are to the “preservation of the Union.” Editors repeat constantly that the secession crisis is a test of “whether we have a government or not,” and more than a few editors advance the novel doctrine of the rights of government, and more than one argues that government, too, had a right to self-defense. Why should the first law of nature, self-preservation, apply only to persons? Were not governments entitled to the same privilege of self-defense? That the government was threatened by “treason” and “rebellion” was repeated constantly. The Indiana Daily Journal declared: “We have the resources, physical and financial, to preserve this government against treason and rebellion. The government must be preserved,” adding that, “Southerners in their madness wage open war. Let them suffer the doom of traitors.” Another paper proclaimed: “One idea confronts us. Shall the authority of government be vindicated, or shall we have mob law and anarchy? The whole power of the government must be brought to bear against any form of opposition to its authority.” Yet another said that, since South Carolina was “in rebellion and has insulted our national flag and national honor, she will get the fire and blood of civil war.” But no paper presented what was at stake with greater clarity and honesty than the Hartford Daily Courant of Connecticut, whose editors admitted: “We prefer the tyrannical exercise of the authority of Government, to the anarchy which the exercised right of secession would produce.”[12] They prefer the tyrannical exercise of authority to permitting secession.

The Columbus Daily Ohio State Journal exclaimed: “The United States Government is assailed by a horde of disunion traitors, and is, or soon will be, compelled to act on the defensive.”[13] The Springfield Daily Republican of Massachusetts called all citizens to rally to “the defense of the government against warlike assault by armed rebels.”[14] This is before Sumter, by the way. One can imagine how this type of rhetoric was intensified after the South Carolinians fired on Sumter. “To war!” was the cry of the Boston Post, “there being left no choice between a support of the government and anarchy.” “Let the people sustain the government,” cried the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, “If it fails, then will come anarchy, confusion, civil war; the country will be one vast pandemonium.”[15] The question was simple for the editors of the Chatfield (Minnesota) Republican: “On one side stands rebellion, treason, anarchy, on the other the government, patriotism, law and order.”[16] The Rockford Republican was aware of the horrors that would follow from civil war, but believed having a “weak, cowardly and imbecile” government would be worse:

“Better were it that blood and treasure should be poured out in torrents—that the beat of the drum, the roar of artillery, the tramp of armies and the clash of arms, should resound over every foot of free territory on this continent for the next hundred years, than that this people and this government should present to the world so pitiable and self-debasing a spectacle.”[17]

The Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot conceived the war as an exercise in parental discipline: “The south must be made to respect the general government, and learn from northern arms that a people devoted to the peaceful pursuits of life are capable of vindicating their honor and protecting their government.”[18] Northerners regarded the federal government as belonging to them, obviously. We are fighting for the existence of our own government. If we succumb to secession, our government is gone. We shall never more have peace or public order at home. What is more, we shall lose all in life that is worth living for and postpone for ages the progress of mankind. Well, you can’t have that. Blessed was it to be young and to die in such a holy cause. The Providence Daily Journal called on all Northern youth to fight the good fight and to sacrifice their lives for the authority of government: “Young men, this is a proud epoch in which to live, and if need be, to die in the holy cause that asks for your services.”[19] That holy cause was the defense of government. “At no period in this country’s history, save in the revolution, at few epochs in the world’s history has it been so glorious and joyful to have a life to give.”[20] The editors seemed really to believe that to die for government was a joyful sacrifice, one that only a few blessed souls in history had ever had the privilege of offering up. The editors of Iowa’s Dubuque Daily Times were reminded of Cromwell’s time. They beheld “an army sustained by such an exalted moral purpose”[21] as defending the government from rebels and traitors. That’s the exalted moral purpose, not ending slavery or something. They seemed unaware that Cromwell had fought to overthrow the existing government. But why ruin a great crusade with unwelcome facts? And all those engaged in this unholy war against the government are beyond the pale of sympathy and deserve only the retribution that belongs to outlaws, rebels and traitors. What kind of retribution did they have in mind? Well, the Buffalo Morning Express suggested the application of “the consuming element” (fire) to the homes of rebels. If that should fail, they would support the “extermination” of those no longer entitled to the considerations belonging to a common humanity.[22] Nothing else would afford future security to the government and peace to the country.

The historian is hard-pressed to find a Republican editor who expressed anything besides delight that the war had started. At the first news of the Southern bombardment of Sumter. The editors of the Buffalo Morning Express were filled with joy. At long last, the government was to vindicate its authority, assert its power, enforce the laws. “We cannot disguise our intense satisfaction.” Either you’re with us or against us. The Republican editors seemed to have an accurate augury of the nature of the coming war, though not of its length or number of dead. There would be no neutrality, no negotiation, no mercy. Some of the words have a familiar sound to those who have witnessed the inauguration of the War on Terror. All these quotes are from papers of that day. “One is either for the government or against it.” “Keep watch on the traitors in the North,” cautioned the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, “Those who are not for the Union are against it.”[23] “There is no neutral ground between treason and the law. Those who are not for the Stars and Stripes are against them. There is no middle ground.” The border slave States which remained in the Union would learn that the hard way. The Cincinnati Daily Times, a John Bell paper, foretold their fate with impressive augury: “In this contest, there can be no neutral position; a citizen, a community, a state must be for or against the Union.” Now they’re starting to switch their tack to “for the Union” instead of “government.” “He who will sustain the government is its friend and he who will not is its enemy.” Maryland was the first to find that out. Even before the rude assault on the sanctity of Sumter, Lincoln’s local paper in Springfield was fitting him for the purple robes of a Roman dictator. In his capacity as defender of the Constitution, he had license to violate the law and order, a blockade of Southern ports, call for State troops and volunteers, all without the action of Congress. It was the old doctrine of burning the village to save it, with the sacred Constitution standing in for the role. In other words, we have to save the Constitution by violating it.[24] Another old doctrine, perpetually on the lips of the tyrant, made its appearance early on. The Newburyport (Massachusetts) Daily Herald informed its readers that “Nor should we hesitate if legal and constitutional objections are raised; the necessities of war—especially civil war—are above all technical forms.”[25] In a remarkable outburst of philosophical candor reminiscent of the realpolitik of the Athenian envoys to the island of Melos in the Peloponnesian War, the editors of the Washington National Republican observed: “The practice of nations is to do what their interests require to be done, within the limits of their power; and there is never any difficulty in finding authority in the books.”[26] Well said. And this months before the shooting started, before political arrests were made, newspapers shut down, and greenbacks substituted for the contracted gold.

As far as humanitarian considerations, check them at the door, most editors advised, for this would be total war, not some 18th-century military spectacle conducted according to the forms of court etiquette and humane tradition. The Columbus Daily Capital City Fact: “All squeamish sentimentality should be discarded, and bloody vengeance wreaked upon the heads of the contemptible traitors…No quarter should be shown to rebels, and traitors should hang.”[27] “There must be no half way work,” said the Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot.[28] “Blood will be poured out like water,” crowed the Bangor Daily Evening Times.[29] The Madison Patriot also called for bloodletting:

“…may we not suppose that an Allwise Providence has ordained that a little blood-letting is necessary to cure the fatal malady? It seems so to us, and we believe that, after a few fields are crimsoned with blood, the mad spirits will return to their senses… Blood is said to be a great purifier. It was employed in ancient times as atonement for sins, and millions of altars smoked daily with the burning incense of blood. The blood of God’s only Son was offered up as an atonement for the sins of the whole world, and nothing but blood can now purify the corrupted political atmosphere. Blood it is then, and let it flow till the past is atoned.”[30]

And these were Democratic papers. Some of them went over to the dark side, unfortunately. The Republicans were blunter. The Elkhorn Independent called for a “war of extermination… until treason is crushed out.”[31] (emphasis original) “Because of their atrocities against government, the Southern rebels are beyond the pale of sympathy and deserve only the retribution that belongs to outlaws, rebels, and traitors.” They recommended that the cities of Baltimore and Charleston, as well as Alexandria and Norfolk, Virginia be “razed to the earth and left a blackened monument of a fearful but just retribution.” The editors at the Indianapolis Daily Journal thought that every enemy of the government should be shot or blasted. Presumably they’d be lining them up to wipe them out with a cannon. Should resistance be offered, “let every gutter run with blood, and every foot of ground within the State be furrowed by cannon… We do not want peace now, nor do we desire a slow or merely defensive war. We want war, swift and overwhelming.”[32] Some editors even advocated ethnic cleansing parts of the South. As early as January of 1861, the Augusta Kennebec Journal of Maine called for the forced removal of South Carolina’s white population to Mexico. The Aurora Beacon of Illinois urged the shooting, hanging, or deportation of Virginia’s “rebellious first families,” to be replaced with the free men of the North.[33] James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald was willing to offer his Democratic pen to support a war for the Union, but he was appalled and taken back by the
“bloodthirsty tirades,” as he called them, issuing forth from the Republican presses.[34] Richmond to be laid in ashes; Baltimore turned into a heap of cinders, its population cast out; Virginia and Maryland laid waste and desolate; the South turned into a land of widows and orphans. That’s what Republicans are recommending to be done. “We would support a war to crush treason and restore national unity but not to subjugate the South,” said Bennett. Bennett was very naïve and was trying to walk this fine line, like some Democrats that went over, “Well, we’ll support the war for the Union, but not a really bad war.” That never works. Either you’re for the war or you’re against it.

“We battle for the Lord and the right.” So, now we’re getting to some familiar rhetoric you’ve maybe heard lately. A consciousness of God and the right dwelling amidst the Republicans was palpable. The Northern armies “do verily believe that Almighty God is on their side and has sanctified their cause.” That was the least that was claimed. From the beginning, the war was seen as a religious crusade in which the forces of righteousness and the Lord were arrayed against the forces of depravity and the Devil. Secession seen through a theological prism came out a Satanic rebellion against God’s providential nation and His government whose mission was to regenerate the world. During the coldest part of winter, the editors of the New York Morning Courier and Enquirer witnessed “a band of Traitors in the State of South Carolina, rise in Rebellion against Him and the work of His hands, and impiously declare their intention to destroy that which He has established!”[35] For the government to crush them was God’s work. The Easton Daily Evening Express called indivisible union “the Light of the World!!”[36] The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser worried that America’s mission and destiny were well short of their divine consummation in the dawning of the millennium. An independent Southern Confederacy was unthinkable, for it would delay that great event, “after more than four thousand years of recorded, steady progression,” and “thwart the purposes of God in history.”[37]

It would also be bad for profits and impair future investment opportunities, for a divided America would be unable to achieve commercial and financial supremacy, its rightful destiny. Other editors did not see how the war could be both a good work and a good investment. Swelling simultaneous accounts in bank and heaven. As Northern men rushed to volunteer, citizens hung out their flags, and angry mobs chased Democrats down the streets in the days after Sumter, the Springfield Daily Republican, declared that it was once again 1095 A.D. The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, and the infidels had occupied the Holy Land (or at least half of it): “America has a recognized God to-day; and it is very doubtful whether she would have had one if war had not hurried the nation into His presence. War has broken up the nightmare of commerce. Men who have never thought of anything but money forget their old idolatries.”[38] Evangelism and spiritual awakening through war was fine, but the commerce was a nightmare. It was not what the bondholders had in mind. It struck the wrong note entirely. Were not riches a sign of God’s grace? What happened to the Calvinist merchants of old? One must forgive such indiscretions of enthusiasm during a holy war, and it was comforting to realize that the President was not one to build a wall between God and man. There was no better way of coming closer to God than embarking on a religious crusade, except to die in the prosecution of it: “Young men, this is a proud epoch in which to live, and if need be, to die in the holy cause that asks for your services.”[39] The Providence Daily Journal of Rhode Island heard the tap of the drum and said it sounded like “the resurrection trumpet,” waking the dead to life, the laying waste of the South by fire and sword a manifestation of the Christian spirit. So, the sound of war is like the resurrection trumpet. Onward, Christian soldier, onward to war and death. Despite the familiar tones of the music, the medieval crusades were not the archetype. They didn’t bring up the medieval crusades; it was, rather, the Puritan revolution of the 17th century. The Army of the Potomac was the New Model army. Northern soldiers were men of purity and high moral principle: “men who pray and fight… armed with Bibles in their pockets and the truths of God in their hearts…sustained by an exalted moral purpose” to defend the government from rebels and traitors, and with God and right on their side.[40] How could they lose?

I’m not done yet, but that gives you an idea of their mentality and how they would react to those in the North who opposed the war. If you’re opposing the war, that’s bad news. In April of 1861, when Sumter was fired on, there were a lot of mobbings of Democratic papers. Mobs would go out and would descend on a Democratic paper and wreck the newspaper, you know, usually go into the office and just destroy it. They would also show up at the houses of prominent Democrats who’d been outspoken against Lincoln and they would demand to see the flag. And if you would have to hang out the Stars and Stripes and appease the mob by saying something like, “Oh, I support the President.” If you didn’t you were in trouble. That’s how the Reign of Terror started. It got much worse as things went on. Actually, I’d never heard of this until my research, but the summer of 1861 was the beginning of a peace movement, and it was particularly strong after First Manassas. It gained a lot of strength after that, and it was particularly strong in Connecticut, believe it or not. Connecticut had a lot of Democrats. The peace movement was really characterized by two things. First, they would have peace rallies and they would hang out peace flags. The peace flag was a white flag usually with some kind of a blue design, with the letters “p-e-a-c-e” written on it, and they would hang up peace flags. They would also do the modified Stars and Stripes, where they included only the nineteen free states on it to say, “Okay, the Union and Confederacy are separate, now. We just have to accept that.” They also put up liberty poles with things on there, like Lincoln as a tyrant. So, in August of 1861, in Connecticut, there were thirty peace rallies. Toward the end of the month, the Republicans decided they had to start doing something about this. But even before then, there were incidents. After the firing on Sumter, a Connecticut man had fired his cannon. You know, it was probably a leftover from the Revolutionary War, and his dad had been in the militia, so he somehow owned a cannon. He fired his cannon to celebrate the Confederate victory at Manassas or (Bull Run, as they called it). His neighbors rushed the cannon and they wheeled it and dumped it in the river. Another fellow who expressed satisfaction at that Confederate victory was dragged to the town pump and was drenched and then forced to take an oath of allegiance beneath the Stars and Stripes.

Those guys got off really easy. Ambrose Kimball, publisher of the Essex County Democrat in Massachusetts (talk about publishing from the belly of the beast), was tarred and feathered in August, which is pretty tough. They dumped him in a hot bucket of tar and then covered him feathers. That was the only Massachusetts anti-war newspaper, and it was gone. Up in Connecticut, there was a very large meeting at the town of Stepney. Almost 500 people or so, a lot of families. They had peace flags. Then toward the afternoon, a man arrived with 1,000 Federal troops who had just been discharged. They were armed with pistols, their leader with was Phineas T. Barnum. Yes, that P.T. Barnum. They proceeded to attack the peace meeting. They tore down the flags. They put the old Stars and Stripes back up. They set up a war platform, and had a big a war rally and chased the peace people and their families out of there. Then, they took the white peace flag and dragged it in the mud behind some kind of an omnibus as they went back to the town of Bridgeport. In Bridgeport, they proceeded to drink heavily and start bonfires, ‘til someone had the great idea: “To the Farmer! To the Farmer!” The Bridgeport Farmer was a Jeffersonian Democratic newspaper that had been opposing the war very vociferously. So, they descended on the office of the Farmer in downtown Bridgeport. The editor, a man named Morse, barricaded the front door as tight as he could and then ran upstairs and they busted down the front door and came in. One group proceeded to destroy the type and the press, throwing them in the streets, smashing them to bits. Morse managed to escape to the roof with about a hundred howling citizens after him, probably to kill him. And he only escaped because he jumped from the roof to a neighboring roof. It was amazing he made it, because it was like a fifteen-foot jump or something. Morse proceeded to escape by the roof and he left town soon after that.

In August, the first crack-down came. Nine Democratic newspapers were shut down in New York City. In Philadelphia, there were mobbings. The editor of the Christian Observer, Amasa Converse, was very outspoken against the war. He wasn’t political. The Observer was a Presbyterian newspaper. Converse was non-partisan, but he was very outspoken against the war. He was arrested on orders of Lincoln and sent to Fort Lafayette. The newspaper was shut down. In Ohio the Republicans were especially vicious. Dayton, Ohio, was the hometown of Clement Vallandigham, an Ohio congressman who was a leading peace Democrat who opposed Lincoln from the very beginning. This infuriated Lincoln. Lincoln hated Vallandigham because he had the courage to speak up against him in Congress. The Dayton Empire, edited by John Frederick Bollmeyer and William T. Logan, was a newspaper allied to Vallandigham. Logan was arrested in August of 1861, and he had it easiest compared to his partner, Bollmeyer, who a year later was shot and killed by a Republican. Then, in 1864, the office was destroyed by a mob. They caught the owner, whose name was Hubbard, and proceeded to beat him up and throw him from a window thirty feet above the ground into the street. He was badly wounded and the newspaper was shut down. The Crisis in Columbus, Ohio was also targeted. The editor there, Samuel Medary, was arrested in 1864. The editor of the Circleville Watchman in Ohio, John Kees, was arrested and imprisoned in 1862. While in prison, Kees was subjected to sleep deprivation, which our attorney general says is not torture.[41] Kees was subjected to that extensively. He went insane and was sent to a lunatic asylum. What went on in Ohio was just ugly.

One other event which was really fascinating will give you more of an idea of the whole environment. The Democrats met in Frankfort in February of 1863. 1863 was a very active time in the peace movement because the war wasn’t going very well, and whenever that happens, peace sentiment increases. They had a larger meeting in May of 1863, in Indianapolis, Indiana. 10,0000 the Democrats met in downtown Indianapolis. It was really an anti-war rally. Anyway, according to an eyewitness account:

“A force of Federal infantry and artillery under Colonel John Coburn was stationed in the square immediately to the north with the guns bearing directly on the speaker’s stand. Four companies of the 71st Indiana were posted in the governor’s circle nearby, and three pieces of artillery were strategically placed to sweep the streets leading outward from the circle. Two companies of infantry, fully armed, were stationed at separate locations immediately southeast of the circle, and a detachment of cavalry kept up a roving patrol through the central part of town. As speakers began to hold forth in a vein critical of the administration, hoots, jeers, and catcalls sounded from where soldiers and Republicans were placed in the crowd. Individual, affrays broke out, but there seems to have been no major disturbance until some soldiers and citizens rushed Samuel Hamill, (one of the speakers who was orating from a subsidiary speaker’s stand), and forced him to step down with bayonets at his throat. Personal encounters increased in number and intensity as tempers rose. Some of the soldiers shouted to their comrades manning the cannon bearing on the assembly to fire. From time to time a party of cavalry, yelling like demons, was galloped madly around the square to great peril of those on the periphery. The soldiers, operating on their own, also assumed police powers and made numerous arrests for speaking against the war or cheering for Jeff Davis and the like. The victims were sometimes only roughed up, but arrested or confined to prison. Then, when Senator Thomas Hendricks, began his address. He was greeted by shouted abuse from a Republican in the audience, and when a Hendricks supporter remonstrated, a detachment of blue coats shoved through the crowd and arrested him. Then eight or ten soldiers with bayonets fixed and rifles cocked advanced menacingly on the speaker stand. They obviously meant business, and at the same time a detachment of cavalry bore down in a gallop. The crowd stampeded wildly and there was a huge riot in the town as people just went flying in all different directions.”[42]

So, that gives you an idea of the climate. Republicans were not going to tolerate very much political opposition to that war at all. And they didn’t. Well, that’s maybe not a proper conclusion, but I think I’m finished, so thank you.


[1]Buffalo Morning Express, January 5th, 1861:

[2]Indianapolis Daily Journal, May 1st, 1861:

[3]Erie Weekly Gazette, May 2nd, 1861:

[4]Wisconsin State Journal, April 19th, 1861: (requires subscription)

[5]Bangor Daily Evening Times, May 16th, 1861:

[6]Columbus Daily Capital City Fact, May 18th, 1861:

[7]Boston Saturday Evening Gazette, May 4th, 1861:

[8]Indianapolis Daily Journal, April 27th, 1861:

[9]Philadelphia North American, May 6th, 1861:

[10]Cincinnati Daily Gazette, January 14th, 1861:

[11]Chicago Daily Tribune, February 25th, 1861:

[12]Hartford Daily Courant, February 11th, 1861. These same editors proclaimed that by ratifying the Constitution the States had surrendered their sovereignty to the Federal government for all time: “They and their descendants are bound by this contract forever. Nothing but the unanimous consent of all the contracting parties can release any one from this binding obligation.”

[13]Columbus Daily Ohio State Journal, January 15th, 1861:

[14]Springfield Daily Republican, February 9th, 1861:

[15]Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, April 15th, 1861:

[16]Chatfield Republican, April 16th, 1861:

[17]Rockfield Republican, April 18th, 1861:

[18]Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot, April 24th, 1861:

[19]Providence Daily Journal, April 26th, 1861:


[21]Dubuque Daily Times, May 28th, 1861:

[22]The editors also include this little gem: “This war is for the supremacy of Government.”Buffalo Morning Express, May 30th, 1861:

[23]Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, April 15th, 1861:

[24]Abraham Lincoln wrote as much three years later in a letter to Albert G. Hodges: “I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation.”

25Newburyport Daily Herald, April 15th, 1861:

[26]Washington National Republican, January 21st, 1861:

[27]Columbus Daily Capital City Fact, April 13th, 1861:

[28]Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot, April 24th, 1861:

[29]Bangor Daily Evening Times, May 4th, 1861:

[30]Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot, April 30th, 1861:

[31]Elkhorn Independent, April 19th, 1861:

[32]Indianapolis Daily Journal  May 1st, 1861:

[33]Aurora Beacon, June 20th, 1861:

[34]New York Herald, May 5th, 1861:

[35]New York Morning Courier and Enquirer, January 8th, 1861:

[36]Easton Daily Evening Express, March 27th, 1861:

[37]Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, June 18th, 1861:

[38]Springfield Daily Republican, April 20th, 1861:

[39]Providence Daily Journal, April 26th, 1861:

[40]Dubuque Daily Times, May 28th, 1861:

[41]The U.S. government seems particularly fond of this supposed non-torture. Jefferson Davis was sleep-deprived during his imprisonment after the war. See Felicity Allen, Jefferson Davis: Unconquerable Heart, 422-433:

[42]Compare to this account the approving, laudatory version of William Dudley Foulke, Life of Oliver P. Morton: Including His Important Speeches Volume I (Indianapolis-Kansas City: The Barren-Merrill Company, 1899), 273-278.

H. A. Scott Trask

H.A. Scott Trask holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of South Carolina and is an independent historian.


  • scott thompson says:

    it was northern peeps who called jefferson the “first negro president”…sounds like they felt southerners were inferior.

  • scott thompson says:

    “If we succumb to secession, our government is gone.” the bilge in the north seems to not care about their own crappy ancestry threatening secession just a few decades prior (hell, to me the music from the doors in late 60s still seems fresh)….get enough foreigners into an area with short memories and their own agendas(lincoln owned german language newspapers)….and golly, secession thoughts become unholy. biggest bunch of lying POS ever….greedy-rascist-yankeee- 48ers.

  • scott thompson says:

    if true, all the shitty north needed was 9 states to have their own government where they could screw each other over until oblivion.

  • Lafayette Burner says:

    I think this is the right view and the Wisconsin Daily precisely describes it: “The south must be made to respect the general government, and learn from northern arms …”

    Which is why we see what we see today: there is no opposition party, elections are rigged, etc. I think West Virginia is the proof of concept for centralized control seen today. The general government created a new State where one did not exist (technically they created two, having 3 Virginias at one time: Confederate Virginia, Union Virginia, West Virginia). The general government then rigged a US Presidential election in 1864 in West Virginia. Post war West Virginia’s opposition party acquiesced, the Confederates played along with the narrative, and why not? A lot of power is gained.

  • Tom Wiggins says:

    Tom Wiggins

  • Tom Wiggins says:

    To this day, yankees feel inferior to a southern man. Constantly trying to “one up” them and prove themselves better.

  • Joyce Bennett says:

    The ideological descendants of those 19th Century Puritanical Yankees are gripped by that same kind of madness, lunacy. They too have to violate the Constitution to save it. This is a remarkably good essay/presentation worthy of rereading many times.

  • Allen Harrison says:

    And that set the tone for U.S. history to this day…

  • Bob Neidert says:

    Thank you, all authors and writers of The Abbeville Institute for publishing what I never knew growing up in Ohio. I am more of a Southerner for it. Hope that makes sense.

  • Billy P says:

    “One nation under God”….I don’t think so – none of that statement is fact.
    The south was never welcome…they only wanted to profit off of us, our money and our resources, and a place to fly to when it’s cold. We are occupied and it’s getting worse every day. Real southerners have no representation in this country with either political party.
    Despite the garbage on TV….to this day, you still can’t watch Dukes of Hazzard, but you can watch satanic rituals at awards shows or sporting events, some sponsored by Pfizer or other globalist companies knee deep in it, or rappers simulating sex acts on a stage with demonic symbolism openly presented, while the brain-dead, Hollywood obsessed young numbskulls clap for them.
    Even worse, little kids have to suffer drag queen story time in schools and after they grow a few more years, what’s left of them can become woke and learn to hate their own existence in the anti-white hatred classes held in universities.
    THAT is the northern, corrupt, central government in action and the god they have always served. That is the glorious United States of America. These are the products of their national religion, as far from Christ as it can get. Their condescending attitudes and holier than thou personas never cease, whether directed at southerners or other nations. I believe wholeheartedly the politicians and agencies in the US central government may be the most evil unit in the world because it hides behind the facade that it’s doing things for the good of humanity (sound familiar?) and of course, and always: To “save democracy”.
    It is hardly worthy of pointing a finger at any nation. I don’t think it was always true, but it is now I’m truly sorry to say. What a mess we are leaving our descendants.
    There is not a day that goes by that I wish we had won the war in 1861 and were free from it. God bless those who fought and died trying.

    • Rick says:

      Amen! Amen! Amen! One more mention should be added: since WW II the South has provided over 40 % of all USA military personnel.

      When Russia makes it next onslaught in Ukraine, and it can no longer ‘hold’ the Russians, it will force the USA to put AMERICAN troops on the ground in its PROXY WAR WITH RUSSIA. The Russians must be stopped in the Ukraine. America cannot allow Russia to ‘win’ this war, which is why Washington and its minion countries have supplied Kiev with trillions of dollars’ worth of armaments and equipment. If Ukraine fails, OUR troops are the last resort for winning the war with Russia, but so is WW III.

      Guess where more than 40% of those troops will come from? You can bet your sweet bippy they won’t be from the Northeast states!

      • William Quinton Platt III says:

        Why must the Russians be stopped in Ukraine? All they have asked is for Russians living in Ukraine to have the right to self govern.

        • Rick says:

          Mr. Platt,

          Thank you for your response giving me a chance to be more specific.

          When the Soviet Union disintegrated the USA promised that it would not enroll the former Socialist Republics of the USSR in NATO membership – IF they (Russians) would disband the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was disbanded, but the USA has not kept its promise of not expanding into those Warsaw Pact Republics. That is the cause of the current [proxy] war in Ukraine.

          Look at how many NEW countries have signed on with NATO in the last year – and now Zelensky is pushing for Ukraine membership – most are right on the doorstep of Russia!

          It’s an American war by proxy because the USA is using its NATO minions and the Ukraine to destroy the Russian government, which is the only major power standing in the way of the West from total control, or at least domination of the world, and keeping them, or delaying, the instillation of their ‘progressive’ (ie. regressive) one-world government. Not too many years ago, Ukraine HAD a Russian president, but was displace (with USA help/insistence) because he was ‘too Russian.’ He sided with Russian most of the time. That means the USA couldn’t manipulate him to their advantage. Remember VP Biden telling the Ukrainians they would not get $5M unless they fired the Ukrainian investigating his son, Hunter, for illegal dealings?

          Also, proxy because of the current temperament of the American people who would not tolerate a direct US involvement so soon after the fiasco of our Afghanistan defeat! Americans have a short mind and will soon forget their humiliation in Afghanistan and be more susceptible for allowing American ground troops in Ukraine, especially if our involvement can be made to be for ‘national security.’ Of course, the world government that is repeatedly spoken about, would be under the control of the USA-led United Nations.

          Russia still regards its religious traditions, its cherished history and its moral standards, much to the chagrin (hatred) of the USA and the West. That is anathema to the creed of the ‘new world order’ and why Russian must be destroyed or marginalized in the very least, so it no longer is a threat to ‘universal world government.’

          There is no doubt in my belief to what I have written. Please read Dr. Boyd Cathey (My Corner by Boyd Cathey blogs) who can explain this more eloquently than I.

          So, I asked again: “Where do you think the more than 40% of the soldiers are going to come from to fight this war?”

          I am not a Southerner, but I love the South as if it had been born there because it’s my heritage too as an American and I wonder what would happen if the Southern mothers and fathers refused to send their sons and daughters to fight in a war that has no interest for this country, except for the politicians.

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