“We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor and independence; we seek no conquest, no aggrandisement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us, should not now attempt our subjugation by arms.”
– President Jefferson Davis, April 29, 1861
The Union cause in the War Between the States was received with much more skepticism across the West at the time than it is presented today as a noble abolitionist crusade to liberate the poor suffering blacks by mythmaking Northern historians. We’ve already seen how the French came to regret their decision not to intervene in the war on the side of the Confederacy.
By the time of the Lincoln administration, Mexico had already lost half of its national territory to the United States. The French under Napoleon had parted ways with Louisiana. Britain had been bullied out of half of Oregon. Japan had been “opened” by the U.S. Navy. Spain had been bullied out of Florida and Latin America by the independence movements which had been enthusiastically supported by Americans. It would later be bullied out of the rest of its empire in the Spanish-American War.
Foreigners had good reasons to fear the ascendant Yankee Empire and its twin doctrines of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism. After it finished off the Confederacy in 1865, the Union Army redeployed to the Great Plains to crush the Plains Indians for the railroad corporations. The Russians threw in the towel and sold Alaska to the United States. President Grant nearly succeeded in annexing the Dominican Republic. Hawaii was conquered and annexed to the United States.
We created Panama by splitting it off from Colombia. We occupied Haiti and took Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain. The defeat of the Confederacy in the War Between the States led to the American Empire being unchecked by any other great power in the Western hemisphere and soon it stretched its tentacles across all of Latin America and the Caribbean and into the Philippines and China in the eastern Pacific. From the South to the Caribbean to the Pacific and ultimately to Western Europe, the American Empire spread its wings through war under the cloak of moral hypocrisy.
No country was more worried about American expansionism than the Dominion of Canada which was created in July of 1867. It was the ultimate irony that Canada, which had stuck to the British Empire in 1776, took its first big step toward nationhood at exactly the same time that the Confederacy lost its independence and the South returned to colonial status in the American Empire.
The following excerpt comes from Adam Mayers’ book Dixie & The Dominion: Canada, The Confederacy and the War for the Union:
“The slap of the Champion‘s paddle wheels was heard long before she was seen, though the steamer eventually slid out of the Lake Ontario fog at about 10:45 AM on May 30, 1867. As she drew alongside Milloy’s Wharf in Toronto’s harbour, thousands of people – Southern exiles, the curious, and prominent local citizens alike – waited in anxious agitation.
The papers that day were full of the news that Queen Victoria had given royal assent to the British North America Act. It meant that on July 1 the clutch of five colonies that made up Britain’s possessions on the continent would be forged into a new nation called the Dominion of Canada. But the papers had been full of Confederation news for months. A far more spectacular, but unpublished, piece of news had brought a crowd of a thousand or more to the waterfront – a Confederate of a different sort. As the Champion drew alongside the wharf, the crowd watched for a glimpse of a celebrated stranger on board.
The rumour had spread through Toronto that Jefferson Davis, President of the late Confederate States of America, would be among the passengers. The papers had closely followed Davis’s release from prison a few days earlier and his journey by train through Washington to New York and from there Montreal, where his family had lived for the past two years. Now Davis was coming to Toronto on a mission he would later tell General Robert E. Lee probably saved his life.
As the Champion hove to, her great paddle wheels fell silent and Davis appeared on deck. He walked slowly, with the help of a cane. His jacket and trousers were black and his coat collar was turned up against the chill. On one side stood the massive athletic figure of James Mason, a one-time U.S. senator from Virginia and the late Confederacy’s ambassador to Great Britain. On the other stood Major Charles Helm, former Confederate consul in Havana.
For some, the sight of Davis’s frail and emaciated frame was a shock. Lieutenant-Colonel George T. Denison, a Canadian officer and Southern sympathizer, stared in disbelief at the change prison and defeat had wrought on Davis. “I was so astonished that I said to a friend near me: “They have killed him.” Denison wrote in his memoirs.
Denison scrambled to the top of a pile of coal and began to cheer. The crowd took up his cry as Davis moved carefully down the wharf. Davis seemed stunned by the reception and paused to shake outstretched hands. The papers reported next day that clutching his hat and bowing repeatedly, Davis said again and again, “Thank you, thank you, you are very kind to me.”
The press of people was so thick that police were forced to clear a way to a waiting carriage. From the wharf, it was a short ride to Helm’s home, where the party rested. About two hours later they boarded the Rothesay Castle and resumed their voyage to the small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. As the party walked up a hill from the wharf, Davis turned and for a moment stared at Fort Niagara, New York, where an oversized Stars and Stripes fluttered in the evening breeze.
“Look there Mason,” he said, “there is the grid iron we have been fried on.”
After dinner, the local band came to the brick cottage where Mason lived. The band struck up “Dixie” and Davis came out onto the verandah. There was a brief applause and then silence.
“I thank you for the honor you have shown me,” he said. “May peace and prosperity be forever the blessing of Canada, for she has been the asylum of many of my friends, as she is now an asylum for myself … May God bless you all.”
It was a rousing start to an extraordinary five-month Canadian visit, a journey that allowed Davis to restore physical and mental equilibrium after four years of civil war and two more of prison. When Davis arrived in Canada his nerves were so frayed, ordinary sounds tormented him. The voices of people “sounded like trumpets in his ears,” his wife, Varina, later wrote in his memoirs.
In the United States, the railway coach Davis traveled in had been pelted with rotten fruit and crowds had jeered as he passed. In Canada, he was hailed as a tragic, even noble, fallen hero. …”
The Americans had declared to the world in the American Revolution that they were fighting for the principle of self government. Yankees had invaded Canada twice though only to be repulsed – first during the American Revolution, second during the War of 1812. The Fenian Raids by Irish Republicans which were going on at this time also put Canada on edge.
Wasn’t it the Confederates though who were practicing the American theory of government by exercising their sovereign right to withdraw their consent and dissolve their ties with Washington? Hadn’t the Americans rebelled against the British Empire to establish this doctrine? Hadn’t the Americans also fought to preserve slavery in the American Revolution? That’s how the issue was seen in Canada and elsewhere in the world who followed the course of the War Between the States and observed how abolition was enacted as a mere desperate war measure by the Lincoln administration.
Jefferson Davis was on hand that summer to observe the British devolve nationhood on Canada while the same principle had been repudiated in the United States. The disturbers of the peace of the world never looked back and from that moment forward embarked on the course of empire that has exhausted the country and entangled us in every conflict in the entire world:
“And it is with these people that our fathers formed a union and a solemn compact. There is indeed a difference between the two peoples. Let no man hug the delusion that there can be renewed association between them. Our enemies are a traditionless and a homeless race; from the time of Cromwell to the present moment they have been disturbers of the peace of the world. Gathered together by Cromwell from the bogs and fens of the North of Ireland and of England, they commenced by disturbing the peace of their own country; they disturbed Holland, to which they fled, and they disturbed England on their return. They persecuted Catholics in England, and they hung Quakers and witches in America. Having been hurried into a war with a people so devoid of every mark of civilization you have no doubt wondered that I have not carried out the policy, which I had intended should be our policy, of fighting our battles on the fields of the enemy instead of suffering him to fight them on ours. This was not the result of my will, but of the power of the enemy. They had at their command all the accumulated wealth of seventy years- -the military stores which had been laid up during that time. They had grown rich from the taxes wrung from you for the establishing and supporting their manufacturing institutions. We have entered upon a conflict with a nation contiguous to us in territory, and vastly superior to us in numbers. …”
It could have been different.
What if we had won in 1865?
What if we had stuck to agrarianism and avoided the Great Wave of Jewish immigration that overwhelmed the North? What if we had stayed out of the World Wars of the 20th century? What if men like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were remembered as the Founding Fathers?