Similarity of Substance

Poeta nascitur non fit,”–we are taught as axiomatic by the highest authority. So, also, of nations–they are not made; neither can they be laid off upon the map, by rule and compass, to suit the fancy, interest, or whim of any man or set of men. After all the wars in Europe for the last five hundred years, the boundaries assumed in the beginning of their national lifehood are much the same to-day. Napoleon I. did not level the Pyrenees, neither could he. Spain and France exist now as they did before Rome and Carthage. Nations, then, are not made, but born; born of identity of race, language, interest; born of similarity of climate, production, pursuit; born of congeniality of thought, feeling, habit, taste, religion; born not of treaties, leagues, constitutions; born not of man, but of nature and of God. In nature similarity of substance is, the condition precedent to crystallization. A nation is a natural crystal, and similarity, also, is the condition and law of its being.

Judged by this criterion, how could, how can ever the Northern and Southern people unify? What similarity, pray, was there, or will there ever be, between Plymouth and Jamestown, between Boston and Charleston, Raleigh and Rochester, Nashville and Detroit, Milwaukee and Mobile, New Orleans and Chicago? What attraction could exist between Puritan and Cavalier, between Rev. Cotton Mather and Capt. John Smith, between the Blue Laws of Connecticut and the perfect toleration of Maryland? What congeniality is there between the productions of the North and the South; between the ice of New Pond and the rice of Santee river; the enormous granite monoliths of Quincy and the saccharine juiciness of the cane of Atchafalaya; between the Jerome clock of Connecticut and the cotton bale of Alabama? Whom, therefore, God and nature have put asunder, man cannot join together.

Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 32, Issue 2, Feb 1861; pp. 119.

A Political Paradox

It is certainly not a little remarkable, that what has been so often asserted to be impossible,—for a State to be both in and out of the Union at the same time,—so far from being true, is the very reverse,—the only true and constitutional position of a State being precisely that which the argument supposes to be impossible. A State is at all times, so long as its proper position is maintained, both in and out of the Union ;—in, for all constitutional purposes,— and out, for all others ;—in, to the extent of the delegated powers, and out, to that of the reserved. Any other position would be either consolidation on the one side, or disunion on the other; and the argument, if it be good for any thing, would prove that our federated system, which is justly our pride and boast, is but a political paradox. Nor would it be much short of an equal paradox, if the States, in truth, possessed no right—as those who maintain the argument contend—to resist an attempt to force them from their true federative, constitutional position,—of being in and out, into that of being entirely in, or entirely out, either of which (the disease—and the only admitted remedy, according to this view without withdrawing from the Union), would be equally destructive of the system. And yet, by a strange confusion of ideas, this very right of resisting an attempt to force a State from its constitutional position, and which is indispensable to the preservation of the system, is considered as incompatible with its existence!

John C. Calhoun, Report prepared for the Committee on Federal Relations of the Legislature of South Carolina, at its Session in November 1831.

Let It Be Told

Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, lithograph by Andrew B. Graham, Washington, 1911.
Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, lithograph by Andrew B. Graham, Washington, 1911.

When the South declared in consequence of all these things they would leave the Union unless something was done to assure their protection and justice within it, the whole air resounded with the taunts of Northern members of Congress and the Northern press, taunting them for their weakness and impotence, and threatening to overwhelm them by their superior power, until State after State fell from them in utter despair. Let it be told how a Confederacy was thus formed, small in point of numbers, consisting of eight millions of whites, and about four millions of slaves, without commerce, without manufactures, and almost without accumulated capital, and without allies — which Confederacy staked its all upon an issue of arms with a union of more than twenty millions of men homogeneous in character and pursuits, and which, abounding in all those things of which the others were so much in want, and although nominally without professed allies was yet substantially assisted by the whole world, which, although professing to be impartial, respected a paper blockade, which of itself was almost fatal to a people without ships of war, and to which they had not quietly submitted heretofore. Nor could they have done so then but for the idea that they were indirectly assisting in a war against slavery. What was to be the effect of all this, foreigners did not then understand, or their course might have been different; nor did the North foresee the terrible nature of the contest in which they were about to embark, or they might have paused before entering into it. But let the whole story be told, that the world and the country may behold the entire consequences of such a strife before they provoke another like it. Let us hear the history of that famous day at Bull Run, when Northern men and Northern women, as if upon some review or gala occasion, followed their army out from Washington to see it overwhelm the poor, despised South, whose sons were recklessly assembled together, as they supposed, to be routed and ruined by the superior forces which they stood up to encounter. Let all mankind hear how bloody was the reception which they met, until they broke and fled in wild despair, even more surprised than frightened, if possible, to find the men in gray capable of such stern resistance. Let the course of these heroic men be followed after they fell into the master-hands of Lee, for more than four years over the soil of Virginia, as they trod in triumph with feet red with the blood of their enemies, and as they hurled back the invading forces, sometimes four, sometimes three, and never less than two to one, reeking with their own blood and red with carnage; now driving McClellan into the James River and clear away from Richmond; now hurling Burnside across the Rappahannock river in bloody repulse from the good town of Fredericksburg. Let it be told how these same men in gray flanked the superior hosts of the North under Hooker, and drove them away in wild and bewildering flight, having lost their confidence in numbers, and believing it impossible to make themselves superior in strength so long as there was a Lee to plan, or a Jackson to lead these brave men in the charge, whose wild cheer always betokened courage and victory so long as they had food and clothing, and maintained heart and hope; or still following them in their bloody march, let us pause with them at Cold Harbor, where they repulsed Grant’s assault and piled so high the Federal dead that, as the rumor runs, the authorities at Washington despaired of success, and resolved to abandon the contest and agree to a division of the Union, a determination which they only revoked upon the receipt of encouraging news from the Southwest. But we must not leave the story there; we must follow it to the last sad results, until the tapestry is quite reversed. We must follow it to its final close, when without food, without clothes, and an unsufficient supply of arms, Lee surrendered his hardy and battered regiments with eight thousand muskets in their hands, whilst the rolls bore twenty-two thousand upon their face. And thus when it was impossible to maintain any further contest upon even plausible terms, the army was surrendered and the cause was lost.

— Hon. R. M. T. Hunter in an address to the Southern Historical Society (as reorganised), at the Capitol, Richmond, 27 October 1874.

A Dissolution of the Bonds of All Society

I myself see in this war, if the North triumph, a dissolution of the bonds of all society. It is not alone the destruction of our property, but the prelude to anarchy, infidelity, and the ultimate loss of free responsible government on this continent. Thomas Jonathan Jackson in a conversation with his brother-in-law, Rufus Barringer, in the summer of 1862.

Jealous Not Even of Virginia

The wild talk prevalent in the official and the semi-official organs at Richmond grates harshly upon the ear of South Carolina.  It is still more grievous to her to hear the same unmanly proposition from those in authority in the old State of Virginia.  Side by side Carolina and Virginia have stood together against all comers for near two centuries — the exemplars and authors of Southern civilization.  Side by side it is our earnest hope they will stand to all time against the world.  But we grieve to say there are counsels now brewing there that South Carolina cannot abet — that she will not suffer to be consummated, so far as she  is concerned in them.

There are men in Virginia, and there are men in South Carolina, who have supposed that there is jealousy existing between these States, in the race of fame and ambition.  These men are small pettifoggers and petty creatures.  There is no State in the Union that has the solid, calm respect for the merits of Virginia, that exists here in South Carolina.  But we are not mouthers, or worshipers.  We have no demonstrations to make.  It is not our habit.  We act.  John C. Calhoun, the idol, the demi-god of South Carolina, could have made his most magnificent effort of genius before a Charleston audience, and the only response, at the climax of one of his grand sylogisms [sic], would have been a slight, a very slight rapping on the floor.  Men who worshiped him, found it not congenial to their natures to demonstrate.  Calm and quiet approval is our habit — our custom — to all.  We are sufficiently confident in our position — sufficiently confident in our own intelligence — in our conduct — in our history, to be jealous of no State — not even of Virginia.  We are prepared to stand upon the basis of our record, with a satisfaction too complete to admit of envy towards any people.  As equals, as dear friends, who have most confidence in each other from long experience and good deeds done, and good feeling, we meet Virginia in counsels of war or of peace.  When Virginia wants a sword to assist in her defence, Carolina’s will ever be the first unsheathed.

But, we are no followers.

Continue reading “Jealous Not Even of Virginia”

Oh, Yes, Massa, They Will Fight!

Ruins of Richmond, Virginia, April 1865.
Ruins of Richmond, Virginia, April 1865.

[…]

We are very much perplexed to know who is the next
To command the new Richmond expedition,
For the Capital must blaze, and that in ninety days,
And Jeff and his men be sent to perdition.
We’ll take the cursed town, and then we’ll burn it down,
And plunder and hang up each cursed Rebel;
Yet the contraband was right when he told us they would fight:
“Oh, yes, massa, they will fight like the devil!”

Richmond Is a Hard Road to Travel.

Bird’s-Eye Bo-Peep

Section of printed silk balloon fabric from a captured Confederate balloon. Referred to by Confederate general James Longstreet as the “silk dress balloon,” the craft was constructed of bolts of dress silk. Constructed by captain Langdon Cheves and aeronaut Charles Cevor, the balloon, dubbed the Gazelle, saw service during the Peninsula campaign of 1862. The balloon was captured on 3 July 1862, while being moved aboard an armed tug. In storage at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

MORE BALLOONS. – Some four or five balloons were seen, on yesterday, floating in the air over the Confederate and Federal lines. Two of them, we understand, were sent up from our army, for the purpose of trying the enemy’s plan of playing bird’s-eye bo-peep. The results, of course, were equally satisfactory to both parties.

— From the Richmond Enquirer, 28 May 1862, p. 1, c. 5.