A Bloody Solution to the Southern Problem
The war waged from 1861-1865 was precipitated in no small part by the Abolitionists who had for thirty years fanned the flames of hatred against the South. When the fighting broke out in April1861, they all rejoiced, some at finally being rid of the South and others at the opportunity of destroying her. One of their own, Julia Ward Howe, while in Washington during the early days of the war, penned the lyrics to what became the Unitarian-Abolitionist anthem–”The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Her words hailed the advent of a holy war against an evil South and equated the crucifixion of Christ with the present crusade against slavery. The South Carolina Presbyterian divine, Rev. James Henley Thornwell, well understood the nature of the “irrepressible conflict” waged against his homeland. He wrote: “The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders, they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground, Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity the stake.”
Four years of Jacobin-inspired warfare devastated the South. In addition to some 450,000 Confederate soldiers killed and wounded, the region’s civilian population suffered horrendously, especially during the final campaigns of the conflict. The last months of the Confederacy were filled with arson, robbery, rape, and murder, crimes perpetrated more often than not with the approval of Union military officers and civilian officials. Much of the destruction was pure vandalism directed against defenseless women and children and represented a deliberate policy to strike terror in the hearts of the Southern people. What General William T. Sherman called the “holiest fight ever fought on God’s earth” made little distinction between black and white. A reporter for the New York Herald, who witnessed the sack of Columbia, South Carolina, in 1865, noted that “Negro women were for the most part victims of the [Union] soldiers’ lust. A number of them were woefully mistreated and ravished.”
In the wake of this carnage, Northern business interests began a systematic and wholesale economic plundering of the South that would continue through Reconstruction. Oppressive taxes were levied on cotton, and in just three years (1865-68) over $70 million was expropriated from the Southern economy. As late as 1880 the value of Southern agricultural lands was only two-thirds of what it had been in 1860. Gross farm income did not rise above 1859 levels until the early 1880s, though the South’s population rose nearly fifty-percent during that period. In the decades following the war, the South became an economic colony at the mercy of Northeastern plutocrats who exacted enormous sums of capital through usurious interest rates, stole lands and resources through tax foreclosures, and rigged local elections at the point of a bayonet. Famine and pestilence stalked the land, and it was common to see homeless widows and orphans begging bread from door to door and once-proud veterans reduced to destitution. Indeed, abolitionist Wendell Phillips summed up the situation well when he remarked after the war: “This [the North’s victory] is the new dispensation. This is the New Testament. 1860 is the blank leaf between the old and the new. . . . We have conquered not the geographical but the ideal South . . . and we have a right to trample it under the heel of our boots. This is the meaning of the war.” So it was.
The South’s defeat in 1865, as Thornwell predicted, cleared the way for the triumph of a Jacobin/Marxist worldview in a consolidated American Empire. Wasted by war and military occupation and swindled by crooked Carpetbag and Scalawag “entrepreneurs,” the Southern people could do nothing to halt the centralizers’ juggernaut.
You can read the whole thing here