“Of all the dangers which our nation has yet encountered, none are equal to those which must result from success of the current effort to Africanize the southern half of the country.”
– President Andrew Johnson
Michael Fitzgerald’s Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South is another Yankee revisionist apology in the W.E.B. DuBois tradition that attempts to portray Reconstruction as a noble experiment.
(1) Lemann and Budiansky look almost exclusively at “violence” by Southern paramilitary organizations like the White League, the White Line, and the Red Shirts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina from 1874 to 1876.
The context of the desperate situation facing Whites in these states is completely ignored. The historical record is creatively edited to portray White Southerners as a bunch of brutish rednecks who violently rebelled against the authority of the Glorious Union for no other reason than racist hatred of noble “African-Americans.”
(2) Fitzgerald’s book is a short overview of the Reconstruction era as a whole. He gives a partial description of what happened in the other Southern states. There is at least an attempt made to provide the reader with some level of theoretical understanding as to why the events described by Lemann and Budiansky unfolded in the manner in which they did.
(3) Fitzgerald doesn’t hide the fact that Reconstruction in Louisiana and South Carolina was such an indefensible tyranny that even Gov. Adelbert Ames of Mississippi contrasted himself with his fellow carpetbaggers.
Unlike Lemann and Budiansky, Fitzgerald draws attention to James Shepherd Pike’s The Prostrate State: South Carolina Under Negro Government, a demoralizing chronicle of the decline of South Carolina under BRA (something that Paul Kersey should seriously read), which played a major role in undermining Northern support for the Union occupation.
Is this South Carolina in 1876 or Atlanta in 2011?
In the place of this old aristocratic society stands the rude form of the most ignorant democracy that mankind ever saw, invested with the functions of government. It is the dregs of the population habilitated in the robes of their intelligent predecessors, and asserting over them the rule of ignorance and corruption, through the machinery of numbers. It is barbarism overwhelming civilization by physical force. It is the slave rioting in the halls of his master, and putting the master under his feet. And, though it is done without malice and without vengeance, it is done none the less and completely done.
Before we start discussing the Reconstruction era, which in case you were wondering had nothing to do with actually rebuilding the war torn Confederacy, it is worth taking into account a panoramic view of the scene of the defeated South in 1865:
1 in every 4 Southern White men of military age have lost their lives resisting the Yankee invasion. Countless thousands more have been maimed or crippled. 10 to 15 percent of Confederate POWs in Northern prisons have died from starvation and disease. Southern cities like Atlanta, Richmond, Charleston, and Columbia have been burned to the ground.
The South’s infrastructure (its farms, factories, roads, railroads, bridges, and ports) have been destroyed by the Union Army. Abolition has wiped out the billions of dollars of Southern capital that was invested in slavery. Southern families are starving to death in the Upper South because of the war damage and in the Lower South because of the Union naval blockade. The collapse of the Confederate currency has wiped out the life savings of millions.
In the Appalachian mountains and hill country, the anti-Confederate minority that fought for the Union has become a plague upon their neighbors. The collapse of the Confederate government has unleashed all the forces of chaos and anarchy (think of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) that tend to follow major natural disasters.
Across the Confederacy, the Yankees are traveling from plantation to plantation to “liberate” the slaves and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. In a scene worthy of Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde, the Yankee soldiers plunder and loot almost every “Rebel” home they come across in their search for gold and silver, many of which are burned down by the “Federals.”
At the head of negro armies, the Yankees fan out across the South to decapitate the Southern state governments. The Great Seal of Mississippi is stolen and Governor Clark is marched out of the state capitol in Jackson at gunpoint.
The Governor of Florida commits suicide. The Governor of Texas is thrown in prison. Jefferson Davis is hunted down and captured near Washington, Georgia. President Davis is sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia where he is forced to suffer the indignity of wearing the shackles of a common criminal.
In this context, John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln for endorsing the Radical Republican plan to make “African-Americans” citizens in Louisiana. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes the 17th president of the United States.
The renegade Andrew Johnson of Tennessee was the only Southern senator who refused to leave Washington when his state seceded. East Tennessee was a major anti-Confederate stronghold in the War Between the States.
After serving as military governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson became a hero in the North and was elected Vice President after running with Lincoln on the “National Union” ticket in 1864. His Unionist views were typical of Appalachian Whites who hated slavery and who bought into the Yankee war propaganda about “saving the Union” and “abolishing slavery.”
In 1865, the Union had accomplished its two alleged major war aims with the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee which were (1) to preserve the Union and (2) to abolish slavery.
President Johnson naively assumed that it was time to follow Lincoln’s stated agenda in his Second Inaugural Address to “bind up the nation’s wounds” and “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves.” The Confederate armies laid down their arms and the defeated South had accepted the verdict of the war.
In the summer of 1865, “Presidential Reconstruction” began under President Johnson. Provisional governors were appointed who were typically Unionists. The Southern states repealed the ordinances of secession and adopted new constitutions which abolished slavery. They elected new representatives whom they sent to Congress with the expectation that the “just and lasting peace” was finally at hand.
There was just one small problem: the Yankees had been lying all along about their patriotic desire to “preserve the Union” and “abolish the crime of slavery.” Immediately, there were three problems which doomed Presidential Reconstruction to failure.
(1) The first and most obvious problem for the Republicans was the three fifths clause in the Constitution. Now that slavery was abolished, the slaves would no longer be counted as three fifths of a person for purposes of determining representation in Congress.
Under the constitutional status quo, the defeated ex-Confederates would be allowed to return to Congress with even greater numbers where there was the dangerous possibility that they could reunite with Northern Democrats to retake control of the federal government in Washington.
(2) The second major problem was that the Confederate armies had disbanded and Confederate troops had returned to the homefront where there were millions of ex-slaves and renegade Unionists who would have to live under the defeated Confederates.
(3) The third major problem was that Northern Whites and the Radical Republicans who represented them hated Southerners and wanted to punish the Confederacy for its “treason” against Father Abraham and the Glorious Union.
In December 1865, the Radical Congress reconvened and refused to seat the Southern senators and representatives that had been elected under the new anti-slavery constitutions which President Johnson (who became an unlikely ally of the defeated South) had deemed sufficient to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”
From 1866 to 1868, President Johnson and the Radical Congress clashed repeatedly over the status of “African-Americans” within the United States. This culminated in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson by the House of Representatives and his near conviction by the Senate.
The Yankees were determined to protect the “civil rights” of negroes (and thereby the power of the Republican Party in Washington) by making negroes into American citizens with citizenship and voting rights. By this scheme, they hoped to seize control over the federal government and marginalize their Democratic opposition.
Johnson vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill and the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Radical Congress which had excluded Southerners from representation in Washington responded by passing both bills over his veto.
In the 1866 midterm elections, the Republicans won a sweeping victory in the North. Since the Radical Republicans controlled Congress, they could exclude Southern representatives. They used a purely sectional majority to pass the 14th Amendment which was rejected by Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.
In 1867, the Radical Republicans in Congress effectively overthrew the Constitution. After denying that the Southern states had any right to secede from the Union and waging war against the Confederacy on that principle, the Republican Congress dissolved 10 Southern states (the exception being Tennessee which was controlled by anti-Confederate Unionists) and placed White Southerners under the rule of military dictators.
BRA is created by the Republican Congress. Ulysses S. Grant is elected president.
The Southern state governments that President Johnson had recognized are dissolved. Tens of thousands of Yankee carpetbaggers descend upon the prostrate South to prey upon the region. They combine forces with enfranchised blacks and the scalawag Unionists to carve up the region into personal fiefdoms. The Southern states are ordered to ratify the 14th Amendment at gunpoint.
In this way, the Southern states are readmitted to the United States on Radical terms and the carpetbagger-scalawag-negro alliance elects “representatives” which are sent to Washington: less than a tenth of Whites in Alabama vote to rejoin the United States, a regional highwater mark of a quarter of Whites vote to rejoin in North Carolina, and a mere 130 Whites vote to rejoin the Union in South Carolina.
The 15th Amendment which asserted that the right to vote could not be denied on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” was proposed in 1869 and ratified in 1870 by the Radical Congress and their puppet governments in the South.
The details of BRA vary from state to state, but it was almost identical in spirit to the system that we have today: “African-Americans” were voters and citizens, the Louisiana state constitution required integrated schools and public accommodations, anti-miscegenation laws were repealed, and there were even forms of welfare and affirmative action. The University of Arkansas and South Carolina College were integrated.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 required integration in everything from parks to hotels to railroads and street cars. “African-American” state legislators were often illiterates who used their offices to vote themselves an income.
Property taxes were raised to confiscatory levels to support “African-American” public education. The Reconstruction governments ran up enormous state debts. In a scene out of modern Birmingham, corrupt public officials bribed Southern state legislatures to issue bonds to support the construction of Northern railroad lines which charged exorbitant fees to the natives.
Because of their negro majorities, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida suffered more under Reconstruction than the other Southern states. Consequently, White men had no choice but to resort to terrorism to overthrow Reconstruction in those states.
The Ku Klux Klan was a response to Radical Reconstruction. The White men who formed the Klan believed they were acting purely in self defense against the Republican Party. In Louisiana, the Knights of the White Camelia emphasized only two phrases in its initiation ritual: “maintenance of the supremacy of the white race” and observing a “marked distinction between the races.”
Contrary to Radical propaganda, the Klan and other Southern paramilitary organizations like the Red Shirts didn’t target “Africans-Americans” simply because they were racists who enjoyed lynching black people for the fun of doing so. They were political organizations which hadn’t existed before the war and were created for the sole purpose of overthrowing “negro domination” and “carpetbagger rule.”
The Klan was the Southern equivalent of the IRA or the Afghan mujahadeen that resisted the Soviet occupation. They were freedom fighters resisting the American occupation. If Presidential Reconstruction had been accepted by the Radical Congress, the Klan would have never existed.
What happened in the Confederacy during Reconstruction is exactly what happened to Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War: decapitation of the native leadership, social revolution, foreign occupation, the rule of traitorous elements in collaboration with foreign conquerers, demonization of the natives, the importation of foreign customs, plunder by the occupiers, etc.
The withdrawal of the Union Army in 1877 wasn’t the end of BRA in the defeated Confederacy. It was understood at the time that Reconstruction could be resumed at any given moment should Northern public opinion become indignant again over the “civil rights” issue.
The Jim Crow South didn’t emerge in its final form until the aftermath of the Plessy decision in 1896. Mississippi led the way by adopting a new constitution in 1890. South Carolina adopted a new constitution in 1895. Alabama didn’t adopt a new constitution until 1901.
Between 1898 and 1910, the former Confederate states (plus Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Oklahoma) adopted some version of the Mississippi Plan. “Dixie” emerged as the successor to the Confederacy in this period.
It took three generations of White Southerners over the course of 45 years to overthrow BRA and create a stable social system in the form of the Jim Crow South. If you drive across the South today, you will find monuments to the Confederate dead that later generations raised in almost every town and city.
Their hard work was blown away in the 1950s and 1960s when the Northern majority had another one of its periodic utopian fits in response to the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The existence of the Jim Crow South was deemed incompatible with American ideals and the project of Reconstruction was resumed with the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the Barack Hussein Obama era, we are living through another “Splendid Failure” on par with Reconstruction or Prohibition. We are witnessing the death rattle of the entire Lincoln system that was erected in 1865. Uncle Sam is finally choking to death on democracy, the counter-culture, and the lie of racial equality.
Let us hope the old liberal bastard dies from AIDS in a “gay marriage” somewhere in Vermont. He’s on “The Edge of Glory” up there and doesn’t even realize it.