“It was my first introduction to damn Yankees,” my oldest sister remarked of her first semester at James Madison University in the fall of 1982. It was here, at this university nestled in the mountains of Virginia and named after one of the state’s most famous sons, that her Northern dormitory suite-mates were horrified by such flagrant abuse of their delicate and enlightened sensibilities.
My sister’s crime? Being unapologetically Southern. See, she had not only hung on the wall an ornamental Derringer handgun, which these Pennsylvania and Jersey girls chirped would surely be the death of them, but she had the brazen balls – of which many a Southern belle are known to figuratively possess – to also quietly display a huge Confederate Battle Flag beside her bed.
These white chicks from up yonder were aghast at my sister’s pride of home and heritage, unsubtly disapproved of her accent, and were repelled by her refusal to take down the violent weapon or the Confederate symbol of hate. The audacity! Doesn’t that hayseed know her place? Doesn’t she know we’re offended? And why doesn’t she care that we’re shunning her?
“[Yankees] are pretty much like Southerners – except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.” — Author Margaret Mitchell
And their ironic position of attending a Southern institution named after the man who penned the Constitution and then calling racists the very people who fought and died and sacrificed to try to uphold those principles didn’t register with these miseducated youngsters. Who needs history when you have Yankee sanctification, right?
Just think if these crass carpetbaggers were smart enough to know that it was actually a Derringer which John Wilkes Booth used to shoot and kill their “Great Emancipator,” or that the “Rebel Flag” is based upon the heraldic Christian symbol, the St. Andrew’s cross, they’re pliable heads may have just imploded right there on the spot.
But what’s the deal? This was 1982, for goodness sake – an era when Bo and Luke Duke were outrunning the law in their Battle Flag-cad muscle car on the smash TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.” And the oil tycoons, cattle ranchers, and spicy damsels of “Dallas” were at peak popularity.
Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers were cranking out Southern-rock hits that dominated Top 40 radio. And Johnny Cash was proudly singing in front of the Battle Flag on “The Muppet Show.” To be cool was to be Southern.
My sister’s “god-awful” dorm mates were simply the product of New England schools, which Thomas Jefferson referred to as the “dark Federalist mills” of the North. These re-educated girls were harbingers of the full-throated cultural genocide, iconoclasm, colonization, and puritanical progressivism that has really kicked into high gear over the last few decades. If we just hadn’t been so darn hospitable!
“A Yankee is a particular breed of person who believes that everyone should live as he does, and if not, he will force you to bend to his will.” — Historian Dr. Brion McClanahan
I believe it was James A. Bayard, Jr., a U.S. senator of Delaware, who coined the phrase “Yankee Puritanism.” It was a common theme in his letters and speeches after the War of Northern Aggression and it spoke of the Union’s toxic cocktail of immoral centralized power and its use in attaining allegedly “moral reform” through law.
But Dixie wasn’t always the stomping grounds of petty imperialists. As I’ve unpacked in parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, sectionalism remained strong in the first 250 years of America’s history, even with the movements of the Great Awakening missionaries, Western expansion, and “national greatness” politics.
The North-South divide was always palpable and the urban-rural split increasingly stark. Southerners were winning prosperity-wise, and New Englanders were jealous. But the Jeffersonian vision which dominated America from 1800 till the outbreak of the War also benefited the country as a whole.
America indeed was “exceptional” in many regards. Here are some mind-blowing stats from Dr. Donald W. Livingston, president of the Abbeville Institute.
But the South itself wasn’t homogeneous. For instance, the anti-authoritarian Scots and closely knit Celts who settled in Appalachia didn’t much care for the Cavaliers in the Piedmont and Tidewater regions.
Throw into that mix multi-generations of Africans who lived with some 5-25% of white families as slaves or among them as freed blacks, Spaniards in Florida, Catholics in Maryland, French Huguenots, and Native Americans who were distrustful of them all, and you’ve got the makings for anything but a monolith. Yet Southerners typically embraced a more “sweep your own back porch” culture, as opposed to the meddlesomeness that pervaded New England.
Southerners were steeped in natural law and understood that man is fallible, but through repentance could move closer to the moral mark through family, faith, and custom. “Traditions are mighty influences in restraining peoples,” aptly spoke Richard Taylor, Confederate veteran, Southern author, and son of President Zachary Taylor.
True to its Puritan roots, the Northern zeitgeist was bound in Man’s law, and pushed that human infallibility was actually possible but could only be attained through collective enforcement. Yankees were sure they had all the answers, so purifying the native pests became part of the doctrine. This could include both conquest and/or annihilation.
The South “counseled against utopian projects and flights of fancy that tied human progress to the perfectibility of Man,” wrote historian Robert L. Paquette. Southerners “know how hard it is to eradicate sin from their own conduct, much less reconstruct society as a whole with all the unintended consequences that generates,” Livingston further explained.
What also unified Southerners was the Jeffersonian principles to which they had always clung: the belief that it’s the states who are sovereign, not “the people.” That the “chains of the Constitution,” as Jefferson called them, were meant to keep democratic corruption at bay. That the states which acceded to and ratified the Constitution through conventions, so the central government is a creation of the states.
Also that this “general” government should have only a few limited and defined powers – specifically commerce, defense, and foreign relations. And that subsidiarity, interposition, nullification, and secession flow not from the compact theory, but from the compact fact. This is Jeffersonianism.
Conversely, big-government Hamiltonians knew the Washington machine was a money-making scheme that just needed to be seized upon in order to procure the North’s goals:
- Establish a national bank.
• Print money.
• Live off federal debt.
• Subsidize internal improvements.
• Regulate businesses that benefits political allies.
• Enrich themselves and their region.
• Control the people through inland federal taxation.
• Wield arbitrary power over states through the economic extortion of federal laws and bureaucracy.
The Puritan work ethic fed into this unholy alliance of government and banking. Yanks gotta be industrious and work, work, work for that elusive materialism, while Southerners like their leisure for hunting, fishing, sipping iced tea or smooth Tennessee whiskey on the front porch while they watch the lightin’ bugs dance. Or for having car chases while eluding the law in their kick-ass Dodge Charger, as in the case of the Duke Boys.
The North had no consistent system of political thought other than crony-capitalism, anti-Southern animus, an increasingly secular religiosity, and “progress.” In contrast, the South used experience as authority. They were preservers of institutions and traditions. They understood that studying history helped in wisely navigating the present.
Thus, Southerners were “convinced that Northerners had violated principles of both the Founding Fathers and Christianity by attempting to create a new society that lacked order as well as cohesiveness,” wrote historian James I. Robertson, Jr. “The North seemed to be striving to alter basic American structures. Such activity flew in the face of God’s preordained notion of what America should be.”
That’s why 11 sovereign states peacefully seceded and, together with the nations of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw), created the Confederate States of America. Each voluntarily acceding to this alliance and fighting for self-determination.
That’s why the CSA emblem featured George Washington, who Southerners saw as the quintessential cavalier gentleman. He was the antithesis of soulless modernity. He represented tradition. Heritage. Farming. Duty. Loyalty. Honor. Roots. Kith and kin. Blood and soil. Time and place.
But more important than the South’s reasons for secession is the question of “Why did the North invade?” After all, that unnecessary act was what prompted Virginia and North Carolina to finally secede and was ultimately the watershed event that led to the loss of 700,000 lives.
Yankees were pursuing political, economic, and cultural power, while maintaining the veneer and emotional energy of Puritanism. This manifested itself in a fierce New England nationalism. And at its core was increased centralization, which by its very essence necessarily fosters urbanization.
Well, as mainly rural agrarians with localist traditions and limited-government beliefs, Southerners were “Other” and were right in the North’s cross hairs. You can’t have a shining city on a hill when there’s competition and resistance from down South.
“Why not let the South go? O that the South would go. But then they must leave us their lands.” — Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, 1863
Southerners didn’t want to be subservient within this mercantile economy, so the banking and monied classes of the North aimed to replace the South’s foundations by tearing apart her heart, cleansing her people, and taking their stuff.
Sherman said his motivation during the Georgia campaign was the “extermination, not of soldiers alone … but of the people” of the South,” wrote economist Thomas DiLorenzo. “And [that] he wanted to ‘repopulate’ the state with fine New England stock such as himself, the son of a New England lawyer of Puritan descent.”
Just as the federal government viewed the uppity Indians as an impediment to their grand progressive plans of land, labor, and governmental acquisition, the South had to be purified by force, put in her place, and kept there by any means necessary because the Union needed the South. So, Dixie had to be co-opted. Colonized. Sanctified.
The definition of sanctify is “to make productive of holiness or piety.” And that’s exactly how the bourgeois in the North viewed their immoral crusade. To achieve their elusive democracy, materialism, and consistent tax flow, they must force “union” by bayonet and cannon and production at the point of a gun.
The ruling class in New England would use the technology of the Industrial Revolution not only as a weapon to squash the South, but also to exploit resources in the Americas at large. The North’s hegemony and the South’s marginalization were only heightened by newly entering states of the West.
“The highly sectionalized vote in the United States House of Representatives on the antislavery amendments attached to the enabling bill for Missouri’s admission to statehood in 1819 warned the South, now clearly revealed as a minority partner within the federal union, of brewing political storms,” explained Paquette.
If these frontier states became “free,” they’d tip the balance of power to the North, if “slave,” they’d only increase the South’s capital, both political and real. Slavery became the wedge of North-South power struggles, not because of ethics or lack thereof. I mean, Yankees did often disparage Southerners by referring to them as as lowly race-mixers.
The South came to see slave society as part of “a bulwark against leveling tendencies and democratic excesses that threatened mankind with new forms of despotism,” wrote historian Eugene Genovese. The sectional tensions of the South’s “Old School Calvinist precepts,” as Paquette described them, and the North’s reform-minded Puritanism came to a head in 1860.
Lincoln’s election was the final straw for Southerners, who saw it as a coup d’état. This further unified the peoples of Dixie. Resist or roll over to Northern domination. The ever-encroaching central authority of Hamiltonianism had become fully realized in the form of more progressive tyranny: Lincolnianism.
Even though it was Northern politicians Oliver Ellsworth and Rufus King who first called for secession all the way back in 1794, the South actually had the gravitas to do it. Southerners knew that the opportunist Lincoln would do and say anything he could to avoid losing control of the economic powerhouse that was Dixie.
This is why the Confederate cause had upwards of 75% support among her citizens – a stat that even the patriotic fervor of American Revolution cannot touch. This is why “Defend our homes” was a popular Southern rallying cry among aristocratic officer, mountain infantry, plantation owner, subsistence farmer, city dweller, ladies and gentlemen and even many slaves alike.
“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists,” Lincoln proclaimed in his 1861 inaugural address. “I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so … If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.” Really?
“We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.” — U.S. Secretary of State William H. Steward
Ah, now I’m getting the picture. “While the Republican Party was anti-slavery, it was not abolitionist,” wrote historian Tim Stanley. “High-minded though its rhetoric was, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 only freed slaves in areas occupied by Union forces. Slave-holding states fighting for the Union were exempted.”
And Lincoln’s messianic Gettysburg Address gave “authority, moral gravity, and solemnity to his political statements,” stated author Daniel Dreisbach. “It is not lack of faith or heresy that attracts punishment, but the violation of the civil order.”
And what was that civil order? Well, Lincoln was talking out of both sides of his mouth. “He was, he claimed, preserving the sacred old Union and at the same time promulgating a new birth of freedom that was somehow necessary to save government of the people,” stated historian Clyde Wilson.
“The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.” — Charles Dickens, 1862
The South was being disobedient, so she must be conquered in order to realize the puritanical Yankees’ vision of the “one great democratic republic whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued,” as Karl Marx explained in his defense of Lincoln. Eh, that’s just a fancy way of saying “totalitarianism.”
This is why there was no gradual emancipation of the slaves with monetary reparations to slave holders or more support for the Back To Africa movement. This is why constitutionally protected peaceful secession and state sovereignty were never respected. This is why when Lincoln declared “Union,” what he really meant was the radical transformation of America.
About 1/3 of Southern men died during the War and many more were maimed, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Billions of dollars in property was destroyed and wealth shrank by 60% in the South, while Northern wealth increased by half during the 1860s.
The South’s yoke of oppression was brought on by invasion, total war, defeat, military occupation, carpetbagging, Reconstruction, the cycle of debt bondage, and resulting long-term poverty, but gave Dixie a more solidified identity, as well as a common enemy. Then and now.
Like the 19th-century abolitionist Lysander Spooner remarked, the eventual result of the War may have been the abrogation of chattel slavery, but what the South (and America as a whole) got in return was political slavery. This is Yankee sanctification, y’all. And it’s god-awful and anything but pure.