A Review of Union At All Costs: From Confederation to Consolidation by John M. Taylor (Booklocker, 2016).

Most of the time, finding historical gems requires a lot of work and often long hours of arduous research. On rare occasions, they just fall into your lap. It is even more unusual for someone to simply drop one onto your plate. However, for me, such an event occurred at Fort Dixie, Alabama, in July 2018.[1]

I was speaking at the Nathan Bedford Forrest birthday celebration when I returned to our table and was surprised to learn that my wife had traded one of my books on General Forrest for Union at All Costs by John M. Taylor. I had never heard of Mr. Taylor before that day, and because he had privately published it, I didn’t expect much out of it,[2] but boy was I wrong! This volume deserves the epaulet “tome” and is a worthy companion to Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s books on Lincoln, The South Was Right! by James R. and Walter D. Kennedy, or the works of Donald W. Livingston, Clyde Wilson, Gene Kizer, Jr., Jim Downs, Donald Livingston, Brion McClanahan, and the scholars of the Abbeville Institute, as well as a growing number of unbiased “neo-Confederate” authors.

Mr. Taylor, I found out later, is an Auburn alumnus and a transportation and logistical expert. He spent 11 years as editor of the Alabama Confederate, the newsletter of the Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is the author of more than 100 mostly local articles, but this is his first book. Hopefully not his last, however.

Taylor begins his journey through American history with the Declaration of Independence. His first three chapters are essentially background material, which is vital for the novice and interesting for those of us who have been studying history since Moses was a sophomore. He is an excellent writer and has a talent for picking up intriguing historical nuggets. Taylor picks up steam with his fourth chapter, when he focuses on Abraham Lincoln, and remains there for the rest of the volume. This is the meat of the book and when it “takes off.” His fourth chapter discusses Lincoln’s background and the beginning of his career as a political huckster. Taylor goes on to describe Lincoln’s early years as a frontiersman, lawyer, and corporate attorney for the railroads, and how that led to his corrupt land dealings in the Council Bluffs, Iowa, area. (Lincoln invested heavily in land there in 1857 and used his office to make Council Bluffs the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad in 1861, thus hugely enriching himself.) Lincoln also advocated the subsidizing of railroads (today it would be called “corporate welfare”), in exchange for which the big rail corporations financed his political campaigns. Taylor also discusses several of Lincoln’s other shady deals and corrupt political bargains, but time and space do not allow us to go into all of the “arrangements” here. The author, however, does paint a clear picture of Abraham Lincoln as a slick politician and self-ordained redistributor of wealth (i.e., other people’s wealth—especially Southern wealth).

Taylor argues convincingly that, once the South seceded, Lincoln needed a war to bring the Dixie back into the Union, but he had to make it appear that the South started it.[3] (Too many people in the North believed that the South had every constitutional right to secede.) This task he accomplished in a very smooth manner, befitting the slick and incredibly corrupt politician he was. There can be no doubt that the 16th president of the United States rivaled Machiavelli as a political manipulator.

Although Union At All Costs does not unveil any startling new revelations for Southern scholars who have studied Lincoln’s ruthlessness and corruption extensively, it does yield some disconcerting nuggets. One occurred in 1864, when Lincoln attempted to blame Joseph Medill, the editor of the Chicago Tribune, for starting the war. “You, Medill, called for war,” the president snapped. “I have given you war. What you asked for you have. You demanded war. I have given you what you demanded, and you, Medill, are largely responsible for all the blood that has flowed.”[4]  Lincoln, of course, was not successful in shifting the responsibility for the Civil War onto Medill’s shoulders, although he was able to deflect much of the blame onto those of Jefferson Davis.

In addition to advancing the education of the well-informed reader, this book will also help instruct the general public which, when it comes to Abraham Lincoln, is in desperate need of education. Union At All Costs is characterized by a smooth literary flow (i.e., it is a “good read”) and will hold the interest of readers of every stripe and level of education.

Although this book is excellent until Chapter 14 (Fort Sumter), it is fantastic from that point on because of the way Taylor organizes his chapters. He lists the chapter title and then the “Constitutional Violation,” after which he quotes the article, section, and clause. He then discusses the events at play in each category, including exactly how the president violated the Constitution. He also gives us insight into Lincoln’s thought processes. Each chapter is well-written, meticulously researched and heavily footnoted. The reader will emerge with a full appreciation of Lincoln’s character (or lack thereof), as well as of his cunning, ruthlessness, and lawlessness. The PC crowd may be able to ignore Union At All Costs, but they will not be able to refute it.

“There is no mystery why lovers of big government strongly loathe the Confederacy and worship Lincoln,” Taylor writes. “The Confederate soldier represents the last true defense of consensual constitutional government, and they were the last real threat to the omnipotent leviathan state.” Well said and undeniably true. In the Confederate soldier, tyranny saw its most prominent and most dangerous enemy, and the supporters of modern-day Big Brotherism recognize that. They still fear him, and with good reason, because he strikes at them from beyond the grave. He does this through his blood, which still flows through the veins of tens of millions of his descendants. Make no mistake about it: together with unlikely places such as Ohio and Michigan, the South saved the constitutional republic called the United States in the election of 2016[5] and will almost certainly be required to do so again in 2020 and beyond.

The surprised and outraged supporters of tyranny, Socialism, big government, Communism, Federal encroachment, etc., were at first stunned by their electoral defeat of 2016. Then they realized what had happened, and who had stomped on their corrupt dreams of unfettered power and control. This is why they are trying to smear the memory of the Confederate soldier, desecrate his graves, and destroy his statues, in order to erase his memory from the minds of his descendants. As Lenin said: “Separate a people from their culture, and they are easily led.” Confederates were not easily led; neither are those of us who identify ourselves as Neo-Confederates. The cultural battle lines are therefore drawn. Neo-Confederate authors attempt to get the truth out to the public; Antifa, Black Lies Matter, and assorted other disreputable Leftist groups attempt to erase or suppress it. The public schools, which are frequently controlled by the Northeast/D.C. Establishment, are not going to help us. Neither are the major textbook publishers, which are mostly Northern and have bought into the myth of Abraham the Pure of Heart. We who would report the truth and combat the anti-Southern bigots must read, produce, and distribute our own books. John M. Taylor’s Union At All Costs is a valuable addition to our arsenal.[6]

[1] Located near Selma, Alabama, Fort Dixie is the home of Butch and Pat Godwin, who head the Friends of Forrest organization and hold a large celebration on Nathan Bedford Forrest’s birthday each year, in conjunction with Selma Chapter 53 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

[2] Private publishing used to be looked down on, and at one time there was a major gap in quality between it and traditionally published books.  I remember seeing an advertisement for a privately published book about a love affair between two poodles. My initial thought was: Poodles!?! Are they serious? Yes, they were.  I am no longer sure this gap still exists, and if it does, I am certain that it is not as wide as it used to be. This is true for especially four reasons: 1) many of the big-name publishers have become “politically correct” (i.e., they no longer publish quality books); 2) the quality of privately published books has increased by several standard deviations; 3) companies have emerged which make private publishing cheaper; and 3) the Internet, Facebook, Amazon, etc., as well as several companies, make mass marketing possible for the privately published author. The private publishing companies are no longer called “Vanity presses.”

[3] To finance his internal improvement schemes for the North and the West, Lincoln had to have the tariff money (taxes) from the South. For this reason, he supported a bill increasing the tariffs from 24% to 47%. The Confederate tariff was only 10%. Had the South been allowed to leave the Union peacefully, the U.S. economy would have been thrown into a recession (and perhaps a depression), and Lincoln would not have been re-elected. Lincoln could also not have funded his regime. The Federal budget in 1860 was $80,000,000, of which $70,000,000 came from tariffs—over half from cotton alone. The South, which contained 30% of the U.S. population in 1860, was paying 85% of the taxes, while Northern railroad corporations were being given tens of thousands of acres of government land for free.

[4] Taylor, p. 84, citing George Edmonds, Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South 1861-1865 (Wiggins, Mississippi: Crown Rights Book Company, Liberty Reprint Series, 1997), p. 162. The quote is also found on page 162 of the original 1904 edition, which was published by A. R. Taylor & Company of Memphis in 1904. Joseph Medill (1823-1899) was both the owner and editor of the Tribune. He became mayor of the city after the Great Fire of 1871.

[5] The Big Government candidate only carried Virginia in 2016 and, in my opinion, would not have done so in a fair election. The opponent of the corrupt Deep State Establishment lost the state by about 60,000 votes. But Virginia’s politicians allowed illegal immigrants to vote, as well as felons and dead people. If only people who should have been allowed to vote had voted, I believe Mr. Trump would have carried the Commonwealth and, with it, the entire South.

[6] John M. Taylor’s Union At All Costs is available on amazon.com. It was published by BookLocker.com, Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2017.

Samuel W. Mitcham

Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., is the author of Bust Hell Wide Open and Encyclopedia of Confederate Generals. This essay is a slightly modified excerpt from his latest book, Voices From the Confederacy.

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