Blowing Out the Moral Lights Around Us

Something for the weekend.  A tribute to our 16th President to the tune of Ashokan Farewell.  Today is the 202nd birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I write quite a bit about him.  I do not do so only out of historical interest, but because I also believe that Lincoln, and his fight against the great moral evil of his day, slavery, is highly relevant to our own time.  Lincoln noted time and again that the pro-slavery forces, by their defense of slavery, were attacking the foundation of American liberty, the Declaration of Independence, and “blowing out the moral lights around us”.

Now, if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody I ask you to note that fact, and the like of which is to follow, to be plastered on, layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared to deal with the negro everywhere as with the brute. If public sentiment has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of the screw in that direction in all that is wanting; and this is constantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular sovereignty. You need but one or two turns further until your minds, now ripening under these teachings will be ready for all these things, and you will receive and support, or submit to, the slave trade; revived with all its horrors; a slave code enforced in our territories; and a new Dred Scott decision to bring slavery upon into the very heart of the free North. This, I must say, is by carrying out those words prophetically spoken by Mr. Clay, many, many years ago. I believe more than thirty years when he told an audience that if they would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, they must go back to the era of our independence and muzzle the cannon which thundered its annual joyous return on the Fourth of July; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul and eradicate the love of liberty; but until they did these things, and others eloquently enumerated by him, they could not repress all tendencies to ultimate emancipation.

I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree these popular sovereigns are at this work; blowing out the moral lights around us; teaching that the negro is no longer a man but a brute; that the Declaration has nothing to do with him; that he ranks with the crocodile and the reptile; that man, with body and soul, is a matter of dollars and cents.

In our time the advocates of legal abortion are doing precisely the same insidious work.  The Declaration enumerates certain inalienable rights:  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Abortion takes away the First Right, the right to life.  It cheapens the value of life for all of us, by holding that the right to slay the weakest and most vulnerable among us is a constitutional right.  It gives aid and comfort to those among us like the sinister Peter Singer of Princeton who hold that human life has no intrinsic value, and that parents should be allowed to kill their newborn offspring if they wish, and that some “defective” infants should be killed on the spot by the attending physician.  Close to a million unborn children are put to death in this country each year legally by abortion and such a mass annual slaughter teaches us that the worth of a human life is really no greater than what it costs to snuff it out.

Lincoln is an inspiration to all of us who fight this great fight to end the evil of legal abortion.  In ensuring the right to life for the unborn we protect the right to life to all.  If we fail to win this fight, sooner rather than later none of us will have a right to life, and society will ever be extending the bounds of those who have “inconvenient” lives:  the mentally handicapped, the aged, the infirm, the weak.  Lincoln foresaw such a spreading danger if the fight against slavery were lost.


And when, by all these means, you have succeeded in dehumanizing the negro; when you have put him down and made it impossible for him to be but as the beasts of the field; when you have extinguished his soul in this world and placed him where the ray of hope is blown out as in the darkness of the damned, are you quite sure that the demon you have roused will not turn and rend you? What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.

More to explorer


  1. The “blowing out the moral lights” statement is one I hadn’t heard before and I agree it is very fitting to our own time.

    I have often felt that the pro-life movement is in dire need of someone who will tackle abortion in the same way Lincoln attacked slavery. If that were to happen, however, he or she would probably incur opposition from BOTH sides of the issue. Remember, abolitionists thought Lincoln was too soft on slavery, while proslavery people thought he was dangerously radical on the issue.

    Should we ever have a president who does for the unborn what Lincoln did for the slaves, I think he or she will come from a direction we may not foresee — not necessarily Republican or across-the-board conservative.

  2. I believe Elaine that due to the fact that pro-lifers now control a majority of state legislatures we will see more legislation chipping away at Roe on the margins which I believe long term is an effective strategy. As the population gets increasingly pro-life as the years roll by, perhaps partially as a result of the “Roe Effect” of pro-lifers having more kids, a majority of the Supreme Court will eventually weary of their never-ending battle against pro-life legislation in order to uphold Blackmun’s Folly.

    “Should we ever have a president who does for the unborn what Lincoln did for the slaves, I think he or she will come from a direction we may not foresee — not necessarily Republican or across-the-board conservative.”

    Perhaps, although if such a politician is on the horizon, they have been almighty quiet. Today the Republican party is just as much the anti-abortion party as it was the anti-slavery party 150 years ago, and the Democrat party is just as much the pro-abort party as it was the pro-slavery party 150 years ago.

  3. Honoring Lincoln should be done with caution. His supporters in the Republican Party were the political heirs of the Know-Nothings and the Republican Party was notoriously anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic. Ulysses Grant’s infamous “Jew Order” of December 1862 in Tennessee was an indicator of the North’s prejudices. Lincoln refused to pursue abolition until it was politically expedient and needed to prevent European intervention. He is part of the secular mythology of the USA, and while possessing admirable qualities that would have benefited the South had he lived, Lincoln is not someone to hold up for Catholics to admire any more than Jefferson Davis, who did have good relations with the Catholic Church and who saw, not too long after Lincoln saw it, that slavery as an institution was doomed.

  4. Actually Lincoln stood up for Catholics when they were facing persecution and fought against the know-nothings. I quote from an earlier post I wrote on this subject:

    “In the 1840s America was beset by a wave of anti-Catholic riots. An especially violent one occurred in Philadelphia on May 6-8. These riots laid the seeds for a powerful anti-Catholic movement which became embodied in the years to come in the aptly named Know-Nothing movement. To many American politicians Catholic-bashing seemed the path to electoral success.

    Lincoln made clear where he stood on this issue when he organized a public meeting in Springfield, Illinois on June 12, 1844. At the meeting he proposed and had the following resolution adopted by the meeting:

    “Resolved, That the guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant; and that all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition. Resolved, That we reprobate and condemn each and every thing in the Philadelphia riots, and the causes which led to them, from whatever quarter they may have come, which are in conflict with the principles above expressed.”

    Lincoln remained true to this belief. At the height of the political success of the Know-Nothing movement 11 years later, Mr. Lincoln in a letter to his friend Joshua Speed wrote:

    “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].””

    In regard to Grant and his infamous Order # 11, I have written about that here:

    “Ulysses S. Grant had an unerring capacity for failure whenever he stepped out of the two areas in life in which he excelled: his happy marriage and his ability to make war. On November 17, 1862 he demonstrated this ability to fail when he issued the notorious general order 11.

    “1. The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [of the Tennessee] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

    2. Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.

    3. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.”

    Grant had been incensed for some time that traders were ignoring the regulations governing trade in a war zone. Many of these traders were Jews. It is possible that the order may have been aimed at Grant’s father Jesse, who had caused Grant considerable embarrassment by attempting to trade off of his son’s rank in order to profiteer from the war. Jesse Grant was in partnership with a Jewish merchant.
    Whatever the motivation, Grant, rightfully, was soon forced to rescind the order by Washington, and did so on January 6, 1863. The order created a furor among American Jews, and Democrats in Congress complained loudly about it. President Lincoln ordered the rescission of the order on January 3, 1863. Meeting with a delegation of Jews on January 6, Lincoln said: “to condemn a class is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad.” He told the delegation that he drew no distinctions between Jews and Gentiles and that he would allow no American to suffer because of his religious affiliation.”

    It should be noted that there is no evidence, other than this order, that Grant was personally anti-Semitic. He spent a fair amount of time thereafter successfully mending fences with the Jewish community after this incident. Each time he ran for President he captured a majority of the Jewish vote. In 1874 he and his entire cabinet attended the dedication of the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, marking the first time an American president attended a synagogue service.”

    In regard to Lincoln and abolition, Lincoln made no bones about the fact that as President his primary goal was to preserve the Union. However, when the opportunity presented itself in the War he, against signifcant political opposition in the North, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and successfully pressed Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. He earned his title of The Great Emancipator.

  5. Jefferson Davis never uttered a word during the War that indicated he believed slavery was doomed. He thought that education might ultimately end slavery in the very distant future, but throughout his career until the end of the War, he was an enthusiastic defender of the peculiar institution.

    In his inaugural address to the Confederate Congress on April 29, 1861, Davis explained that secession was undertaken to defend slavery:

    “The people of the Southern States, whose almost exclusive occupation was agriculture, early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render the common government subservient to their own purposes by imposing burdens on commerce as a protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests. Long and angry controversies grew out of these attempts, often successful, to benefit one section of the country at the expense of the other. And the danger of disruption arising from this cause was enhanced by the fact that the Northern population was increasing, by immigration and other causes, in a greater ratio than the population of the South. By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right as a majority to govern the minority without control. They learned to listen with impatience to the suggestion of any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their will, and so utterly have the principles of the Constitution been corrupted in the Northern mind that, in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln in March last, he asserts as an axiom, which he plainly deems to be undeniable, that the theory of the Constitution requires that in all cases the majority shall govern; and in another memorable instance the same Chief Magistrate did not hestitate to liken the relations between a State and the United States to those which exist between a county and the State in which it is situated and by which it was created. This is the lamentable and fundamental error on which rests the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war against these Confederate States. In addition to the long-continued and deep-seated resentment felt by the Southern States at the persistent abuse of the powers they had delegated to the Congress, for the purpose of enriching the manufacturing and shipping classes of the North at the expense of the South, there has existed for nearly half a century another subject of discord, involving interests of such transcendent magnitude as at all times to create the apprehension in the minds of many devoted lovers of the Union that its permanence was impossible. When the several States delegated certain powers to the United States Congress, a large portion of the laboring population consisted of African slaves imported into the colonies by the mother country. In twelve out of the thirteen States negro slavery existed, and the right of property in slaves was protected by law. This property was recognized in the Constitution, and provision was made against its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in the number of slaves by further importation from Africa was also secured by a clause forbidding Congress to prohibit the slave trade anterior to a certain date, and in no clause can there be found any delegation of power to the Congress authorizing it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detriment, or discouragement of the owners of that species of property, or excluding it from the protection of the Government.

    The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interests by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves. As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves. Fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provisions for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even murdered in open day solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment, by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theater of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was not “to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity,” but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the Government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

    In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented form about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the Legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uniterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would “faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed.” The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already averted– the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people in all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well-established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.”

  6. I stand by my assertion that Lincoln arose from a bigoted, sectional party and inflicted total war on people who, he claimed, were his countrymen. After the war, he indicated that he would be generous, but the war was largely his doing and it was devastating to lives and property.

    The man was narrow. Look at this party’s ticket, representing Illinois and Maine in a time when sectional balance was particularly important. The other candidates made an effort to balance tickets, in the view of harmony. Douglas’ running mate was Herschel Johnson from Georgia, the Constitutional Union ticket represented Tennessee and Massachusetts, and even Breckenridge of Kentucky ran with Joseph Lane, a Virginian by birth but office-holder in Oregon. Only Lincoln-Hamlin ignored the South and the sectional discord of the day.

    For evidence on how contemporaries viewed Lincoln, note that Maryland’s Catholics supported the South.

  7. Complete and total rubbish. You are long on assertion and short on evidence because you have none. Slavery was a building crisis between the North and the South since 1820. White Southerners, with very few exceptions, refused to tolerate any dissent on the slavery question. Laws were passed in the South banning abolition societies and literature. For decades, due to Southern pressure, a gag rule existed In the House of Representatives so that anti-slavery petitions could not even be presented in the House. All of the individuals you cited in this sentence: “Douglas’ running mate was Herschel Johnson from Georgia, the Constitutional Union ticket represented Tennessee and Massachusetts, and even Breckenridge of Kentucky ran with Joseph Lane, a Virginian by birth but office-holder in Oregon.”, were pro-slavery with the sole exception of Edward Everett, who was considered a moderate on the slavery question, and who went on to join the Republican party. ( Point of fact, most of the remnants of the Know-Nothing party supported the Constitutional Union ticket in the 1860 election.) Only the Republicans, to their credit, were anti-slavery, and they were made up of former Whigs and Democrats who came together to form an anti-slavery party, to confront the South that was uniformly in favor of the extension of slavery. Of course the Republican party wasn’t even allowed on the ballot in most Southern states in the election of 1860. The problem in 1860 was not Republican sectionalism, but the unwillingness of the majority of whites in the South to part with, in the ringing phrase of the Republican platform of 1856, “that relic of barbarism” slavery. Slavery was the reason why the Southern states seceded, ironically causing the Civil War that led to the end of their precious right to own other human beings as chattels. Thank God slavery was destroyed and the Union preserved.

    In regard to Maryland Catholics, actually Maryland sent far more troops to fight for the Union than the Confederacy: 60,000 to 25,000.

  8. I stand by my assertion that Lincoln arose from a bigoted, sectional party and inflicted total war on people who, he claimed, were his countrymen.

    This is a rather annoying character trait of neoconfederate apologists for the south. When confronted with evidence that your assertions are demonstrably false, you completely ignore it and just re-assert what you’ve already said. Conversation with the likes of you are completely pointless.

  9. Messrs. McClarey and Zummo are certainly passionate defenders of Lincoln, but Mr. Zummo is incorrect in his claim that I provided no evidence. Mr. McClarey ignores the effect that the actions of northern radical northern abolitionists had on Southern abolitionists – and there were some. These Southerners opposed to the institution were seen as abetting the violent acts of people like John Brown, financed by Boston abolitionists. Slavery had existed in the North but for reasons of climate, etc. did not become as common there and delayed manumission laws passed in places like Pennsylvania gave slaveholders time to sell their slaves to Southerners. Mr. McClarey also ignores the effect of the tariffs on the South. Tariffs were the major source of revenue for the Federal government in the antebellum years and the burden of tariffs fell disproportionately on the South, which accounted for most of the foreign trade of the antebellum US.

    I would say that the emotional and in parts, ad hominem, response of Mr. Zummo means that I struck a blow for truth.

    Deo vindice

  10. I would say that the emotional and in parts, ad hominem, response of Mr. Zummo means that I struck a blow for truth.

    Nothing emotional. You just provided no evidence, re-asserted the same points over and over again, and did so again in your latest comment. You’re impervious to reason, so there’s no need to engage in anything more substantive with you.

  11. I was reading the posts again and I note that Mr. McClarey provided some figures on Maryland’s combatants, but this does not respond to my statement that Maryland’s Catholics supported the Confederacy. I don’t have a breakdown by religion either, but I would point out the anti-Catholic bigotry that followed the trial of Mary Surratt. The same applied to another Catholic Confederate, Henry Wirz, who was executed for a death rate at Andersonville prison that was not significantly different from the rate at Northern prisons for Confederate POWs.

    Anti-Catholicism was rampant in the antebellum North. Contrast the reaction of the public to the presidential aspirations of two Franco-Americans. The first Republican presidential candidate, Fremont (Southerner by birth, incidentally), had to affirm that even though his father was French, he was not Catholic. This affirmation was not done for the benefit of the South because the Republicans were a sectional party at that time. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, on the other hand, was taken seriously as a possible candidate to succeed Jefferson Davis after the expiration of his constitutionally mandated single term.

    Also note that Pope Pius IX had a warm correspondence with Pres. Davis after the war. The Church knew of the ideology of the Northern Republicans.

  12. from Mr.Zummo: “You just provided no evidence, re-asserted the same points over and over again, and did so again in your latest comment.”

    The tariff issue is a reassertion? Pennsylvania’s ethnic cleansing under the guise of manumission is a reassertion?

    I am the reasonable one here.

  13. “Mr. McClarey ignores the effect that the actions of northern radical northern abolitionists had on Southern abolitionists – and there were some. These Southerners opposed to the institution were seen as abetting the violent acts of people like John Brown, financed by Boston abolitionists.”

    John Brown’s raid occured in December 1859. The raid was condemned by Lincoln and most anti-slavery advocates and abolitionists in the North. Laws against abolitionists in the South, making it a criminal offense to write or speak against the institution of slavery, predated his raid by decades in most Southern states. The violence was almost always a one way street in the slavery debate, with abolitionists in the South facing mob violence, not to speak of the violence done to run away slaves, and the violence routinely inflicted on many slaves as a matter of course in slavery.

    “Mr. McClarey also ignores the effect of the tariffs on the South.”

    Actually tariffs in 1860 were quite low due to the tariff act of 1857. The tariff played no part in the secession crisis of 1860-1861.

    “but I would point out the anti-Catholic bigotry that followed the trial of Mary Surratt. The same applied to another Catholic Confederate, Henry Wirz, who was executed for a death rate at Andersonville prison that was not significantly different from the rate at Northern prisons for Confederate POWs.”

    Neither Mary Surratt, nor Henry Wirz were executed because of their Catholicism. Indeed at Andersonville Father Peter Whelan became a national hero North and South for his efforts on behalf of Union prisoners.

    Idiots who attempted to peddle the conspiracy theory that the Vatican was involved in the slaying of Lincoln were taken much less seriously than the tin foil hat brigade is today when they allege that 9-11 was an inside job, and their efforts to ignite anti-Catholicism over the death of Lincoln went no where.

    “Deo vindice”

    Oh He did, by the preservation of the Union and the destruction of slavery.

    “Anti-Catholicism was rampant in the antebellum North.”

    Actually anti-Catholicism before the War was fairly widespread wherever there were heavy Catholic immigrant populations. The Know-Nothing party was a national party, in the South as well as in the North. Most of the Catholic immigrants were in the North and far fewer in the South, so it was simply less of an issue in the South. Confederate mythology aside, the South prior to the Civil War, outside of Louisiana, was not notably more hospitable to Catholics than the North. By the mid-1850’s the Know-Nothing party had adopted a pro-slavery position, which helped kill it in the North.

    “The first Republican presidential candidate, Fremont (Southerner by birth, incidentally), had to affirm that even though his father was French, he was not Catholic.”

    Actually the main concern of the Fremont campaign was that he not be labeled as a French aristocrat. His name of course, because he was an anti-slavery Republican, was banned from the ballot in most Southern states. Rumors about his Catholicism (Fremont was an Episcopalian) were spread by the Democrats in order to cost him votes to the Know-Nothings.

    “Pierre G.T. Beauregard, on the other hand, was taken seriously as a possible candidate to succeed Jefferson Davis after the expiration of his constitutionally mandated single term.”

    In Beauregard’s always active fantasy perhaps. If the South had won its indendence I have absolutely no doubt that the second president of the Confederacy would have been Robert E. Lee. Union general Rosecrans, a Catholic convert, was offered the vice-presidency under Lincoln in 1864 but declined. The man chosen, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, had fought throughout his career against the Know-Nothings on behalf of Catholics, and although not a Catholic, he often worshiped at Saint Patrick’s in Washington.

    “Also note that Pope Pius IX had a warm correspondence with Pres. Davis after the war. The Church knew of the ideology of the Northern Republicans.”

    The idea of Pio Nono supporting the Confederacy is a popular fable among neo-Confederates, but a fable nonetheless. Pope Pius never lifted a little finger to aid the Confederacy. He was polite to Davis and sent him a picture of himself when Davis was imprisoned after the war, but he never attempted to rally the Church behind the Confederacy:

    Lincoln enlisted the aid of John Hughes, Archbishop of New York, in helping to make certain that the Church stayed neutral in the struggle

  14. Yes, the tariff of 1857 was low, passed during the Southern-friendly Buchanan Administration years. But it was still disproportionately paid by the South, and Southerners saw the writing on the wall as the North elected, without Southern votes, a president. They were right in suspecting only a temporary reprieve from Northern protectionism, as shown by the Northern passage of Morrill’s tariff in 1861, which led to increasingly higher tariffs so that the average tariff rate didn’t fall below 40 percent, according to Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970 (p. 888). Postbellum Northern dominance in trade culminated in the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff. Smoot and Hawley were both Republican heirs of anti-free trade Abe.

    Southerners were so adamant about the tariff that Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Confederate Constitution specifically prohibited protectionist tariffs.

  15. The Morill tariff would never have gotten out of the Senate but for the secession of the Southern states. It passed in March 31, 1861 because the states which had seceded no longer had Senators in the Senate. From the white Southern point of view of 1860, secession was a blunder of cosmic proportions, leading not only to the destruction of slavery but also higher tariffs.

  16. Historian James McPherson on who paid tariffs prior to the Civil War:

    “DILORENZO IS ESSENTIALLY CORRECT that the tariff supplied ninety percent of federal revenue before the Civil War. For the thirty years from 1831 to 1860 it was eighty-four percent, but for the 1850s as a decade it was indeed ninety percent.

    But the idea that the South paid about seventy-five percent of tariff revenues is totally absurd. DiLorenzo bases this on pages 26-27 of Charles Adams, When in the Course of Human Events, but Adams comes up with these figures out of thin air, and worse, appears to be measuring the South’s share of exports, and then transposing that percentage to their share of dutiable imports. Exports, of course, are not subject to taxation and never have been, because such taxes are prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution — which Adams appears not to know. In any case, Adams claims that about eighty-two percent of exports from the U.S. were furnished by the South — he cites no source for this, and it is in fact wrong — the true figure was about sixty percent on the average, most of that cotton — and then by a slight of hand claims that this proves the South paid a similarly disproportionate share of tariffs. But of course the tariffs were only on imports.

    The idea that the South would pay a disproportionate share of import duties defies common sense as well as facts. The majority of imports from abroad entered ports in the Northeastern US, principally New York City. The importers paid duties at the customs houses in those cities. The free states had sixty-two percent of the US population in the 1850s and seventy-two percent of the free population. The standard of living was higher in the free states and the people of those states consumed more than their proportionate share of dutiable products, so a high proportion of tariff revenue (on both consumer and capital goods) was paid ultimately by the people of those states — a fair guess would be that the North paid about seventy percent of tariff duties. There is no way to measure this precisely, for once the duties were paid no statis tics were kept on the final destination of dutiable products. But consider a few examples. There was a tariff on sugar, which benefited only sugar planters in Louisiana, but seventy percent of the sugar was consumed in the free states. There was a tariff on hemp, which benefited only the growers in Kentucky and Missouri, but the shipbuilding industry was almost entirely in the North, so Northern users of hemp paid a disproportionate amount of that tariff. There were duties on both raw wool and finished wool cloth, which of course benefited sheep farmers who were mostly in the North and woolen textile manufacturers who were almost entirely in the North, but it was Northern consumers who ultimately paid probably eighty percent of that tariff (woolen clothes were worn more in the North than the South, for obvious rea sons). Or take the tariff on iron — it benefited mainly Northern manufacturers (though there was an iron indus try in the South as well), but sixty-five percent of the railroad mileage and seventy-five percent of the railroad rolling stock were in the North, which meant that Northern railroads (and their customers, indirectly) paid those proportions of the duties on iron for their rails, locomotives, and wheels. One can come up with many more examples. “

  17. I agree that the Morrill tariff would have been blocked in the Senate without secession. That is my point.

    On the South paying tariffs, I am not familiar with Charles Adams’ work but would point out that the point at which a tax is assessed is not the same as the actual paying of the tax (tax incidence, to economists). And tariffs impose costs on consumers not just through tax incidence but also through higher prices for substitute goods.

    Free trade was as much a part of Southern antebellum ideology as protectionism was of Northern Republican ideology.

  18. Actually free trade and protectionism did not break down purely along North and South lines. There were areas in the South, the Louisiana sugar planters being only one, that benefited from protective tariffs, and areas in the North, a fair amount of New England, that benefited from free trade due to their heavy reliance on imports. That is the main reason that South Carolina was unable to enlist states in the South to threaten to secede over the Tariff of Abominations in 1828. Tariffs were an irritant between North and South, but the true flashpoint that threatened the Union was always slavery.

  19. The South may well have been rigth to some degree about every point of contention except slavery.

    On the question of slavery the South was completely and entirely wrong, and this was the central question of the day, thus the South, in the great defining matter made the wrong choice and forever tainted its other causes in doing so.

  20. I disagree that the Cause is tainted. The South remains one of the few parts of the Western word where open disrespect for Christianity is not celebrated. To me that indicates that this culture is separate from the rest of the Union and its preservation is right.

  21. “The South may well have been right to some degree about every point of contention except slavery.”

    Of course one could make a similar argument about the U.S. government today — as far as constitutional rights go, it’s right to some degree about every point of contention except abortion; and in this “great defining matter made the wrong choice, and forever tainted its other causes in doing so.”

    As for those who predict that life issues could spark another civil war, I think they are overlooking an important point. In the 19th century, travel and communications were very restricted in comparison to today. Most Northerners had no personal acquaintance with anyone who owned slaves; many probably went through their entire lives without ever meeting a slave or a slave owner. Perhaps it was easier for them to see slaveowners as an enemy worthy only of being punished or destroyed.

    Today, on the other hand, I doubt you will find too many pro-lifers who go through life NEVER knowing or meeting anyone who has had an abortion or at least contemplated doing so. (Many pro-lifers themselves fall into that category.)

    Abortion is far more pervasive throughout our country than slavery ever was. It’s not restricted only to certain states or regions. While that makes it a much greater evil, I think it also makes it harder for most ordinary people to “demonize” those who hold the pro-choice point of view. For that reason alone, I don’t think you will find too many pro-lifers rushing to take up arms in defense of the unborn, when that would mean doing so against their own families, friends and neighbors. I realize that some who fought in the Civil War did just that; however, they were a minority of those who fought and most of them came from the border slave states. If Union vs. Confederate sentiment had been just as sharply divided in New York or Massachusetts or Ohio, or in all the Northern states, as it was in Kentucky or Missouri, the outcome would probably have been much different.

  22. Fascinating observations Elaine. Just a few points of my own.

    1. Most southern and northern political leaders knew members across the geographic divide fairly well, not only due to service in Washington and in the military, but because in those days before air conditioning wealthy Southerners would often vacation at Northern resorts. The Democrats and the Whigs were national parties, so Southerners and Northerners also knew each other well from these organizations. (That is how Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Stephens, future Vice-president of the Confederacy, became friends, as they were both leaders in the Whig party in their respective states.) The Civil War came not because the North and South demonized each other from lack of knowledge, but because they each clearly understood the different paths each were trodding in regard to slavery. The better the leadership understood each other, the classic example is the border states, the fiercer the fighting once it erupted tended to be.

    2. In regard to abortion, we only have it ubiquitous througout the nation now because of Roe. Without Roe, I think we would have a clear Red state Blue state break down in the legality of abortion, with Red states heavily restricting or banning it, and Blue states having little restriction. I do not expect a new Civil War to erupt, but our attitudes are clearly divided on many issues, largely along large urban areas, and everyone else lines. The vehemence with which the abortion debate has been fought between elite urban opinion, reflected strongly in academia and the entertainment industry, and everyone else, is an apt indicator of just how deep the divisions currently are.

  23. “Mr. McClarey, Are you surprised that among the states most opposed to abortion, you find the former Confederate States? W”

    No, because opposition to abortion tends to be the norm outside of large urban areas, as demonstrated by the fact that outside of blue urban enclaves most of the country is deep red. That is certainly the case in Illinois. Most of the mega urban centers in this country tend to still be in the North and on the Pacific coast more so than in the Sorth. Where the South does have a large urban center, Atlanta for example, or Houston or Miami, those elected from the urban center tend to be just as pro-abort as their northern colleagues.

  24. “No, because opposition to abortion tends to be the norm outside of large urban areas…”
    Vermont, Maine, Oregon…?

    I agree, it’s the norm in a lot of areas outside major urban centers, but plenty of exceptions exist. Face it, Mr. McLarey, the South is one of the few areas in the industrialized, Western world where respect for traditional Christian values is still the norm. Any fight to protect the South was not tainted.

    Deo vindice

  25. Maine’s newly elected governor Paul Lepage is pro-life. Vermont is a small state that has been taken over by immigrants from large blue urban centers. Oregon has a highly polarized electorate with liberal California immigrants tilting the balance to the Democrats since 1988.

    There is much to admire in the South, but to say that respect for traditional Christian values is the norm there is not true in some ways. The South for example has a higher divorce rate than most of the country. Additionally, Dixie today is not the Dixie of 1860, mostly for the good, but somewhat for the bad.

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