This is a risky diary. Any of our Lefty friends who read it will catastrophize it and misrepresent it. I’m really not talking about issues, but rather about interests and worldviews. If all you know about 1860 came from a government school textbook, you believe that the American Civil War was about the abolition or preservation of slavery. It wasn’t. Without the slavery question there would not have been secession and a war, but the causes were much more than slavery.
Admiral Raphael Semmes, Commander of the CSS Alabama, once said, probably not originally, but he’s the one who’s quoted, that the Yankees believe that they must toil to make the World turn. Mid-19th Century America was religious but not so much “churched,” especially in The South and West, West being the lands along the Mississippi in those days. The Northeast was churched and they mostly believed that Americans were all sinners who should be writhing in the hands of an angry God. Almost since the founding, they had fomented ism after ism in their attempt to prove the notion of the perfectability of man and of salvation by works. Nothing has changed. They have replaced the Christian God with a witches’ brew of post-modernism, atheisim, and communism, but they’re still the same narrow, rigid, and xenophobic people they were when they were burning witches.
The South was a wild land. Even where Tara existed, the family had probably only held the land for fifty years or so. Inside or close to those white-columned mansions, what few there actually were, was the rough-hewn log cabin that daddy or grand-daddy built when he first got the place for his service in the Revolution or simply because he was lucky in one of the land lotteries. I share both of those heritages.
The South and Southerners had been under attack from the Northeastern elites almost since the Founding. They said the same things about Southerners then that they say about Sarah Palin today; read Olmstead. The Southerners over time developed a seething hatred for all things Yankee. 85% of Southerners didn’t own slaves, but 85% is a good approximation of the number of them who hated Yankees. They didn’t hate them over slavery, they hated them over arrogance.
In the Fall of 1860 Southerners faced the possibility, even probability, that a President and a party would take power in this Country that in the main hated them and did not have to take their interests into consideration. Were Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans to win, they would do it without a single Southern state. If they had a majority in the Congress, they would have it without a single true Southerner. When Northern Republican hegemony was established in the election of 1860, The South said, “you will run roughshod only over our dead bodies.”
Nothing much changes. Look at the electoral map. America today is divided into the lands below the Mason-Dixon Line, Texas, and The Territories in Red and New England, the Middle Atlantics, the Old Northwest, and the Pacific Coast in Blue. That’s about where it was in 1860 except the Middle Atlantic states were a little more in play; they didn’t have ACORN and the mob in those days.
So, it is entirely possible that on November 5th we in the Red States will find ourselves governed by people who hate and despise us, people who consider us a bitter, ignorant, and rebellious rabble who must be “perfected,” whose consciousness must be raised. If Barack Obame is President and we do not on 5 November have enough votes in the Senate to filibuster the wild fantasies of the unions, the community activists, and the trial lawyers, we face subjugation. They will NOT adopt a “New Tone.”
I know the thoughts of that period pretty well. My gg/grandfather was an educated and politically active man and I have many of his letters and other writings. He was a friend and adherent of former Georgia Governor Herschel Johnson and shared Johnson’s belief in Union and opposition to secession. Once secession came, he tried everything that a well-connected man could try to avoid The War, but ultimately he died in Mahone’s counterattack at The Crater.
There are two groups of people in this Country who see America in irreconcilably different ways. I would NOT live in a Blue State, maybe I could not. If the Blue States establish a political and legal hegemony over my Country, it isn’t my Country any more. That must be what it felt like in the Fall of 1860.