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Civil War, Slavery and John Ashcroft

Our prez, the dubiously honorable, George "Squeaked by on Election Night (or Election Month)" Bush must think he's got a mandate from his evangelical god on high to dare to nominate such a controversial and divisive candidate as John Ashcroft for Attorney General (grooming him for a seat on the Supreme Court no doubt).


John Ashcroft is so partisan he has praised a neo-Confederate magazine, SOUTHERN PARTISAN, for "defending partriots like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis," adding, "We've got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."


Which raises the question: Was slavery not a "perverted agenda?" The cause of state's rights wasn't being defended during the Civil War purely as an abstraction. It was linked to the right of the states to maintain slavery. Indeed, the last meeting that Jefferson Davis walked out on in Washington was one in which the federal government refused to extend slavery to the newly acquired western territories. Davis walked out ON THAT ISSUE, which Lincoln and his party would not compromise on. Indeed, it was that issue that got Lincoln elected in the first place: NOT to extend slavery to any of the newly acquired western terrritories. Moreover, Ashcroft and the SOUTHERN PARTISAN seem oblivious to general facts of related to the Civil War, including quotations from Jefferson Davis advocating slavery in ways that most people today have no trouble recognizing as a perverted agenda. Here's the facts that somebody needs to stuck up Croft's Ash:


When the Confederate states drew up their constitution, they added something the colonial founders had voted to leave out, namely, an invocation of the Deity. The South's proud new constitution began: "We, the people...invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God...".
[Charles Robert Lee, Jr., The Confederate Constitutions (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1963), p. 170].


Southern clergymen and politicians even argued that the South was more "Christian" than the North, it was the "Redeemer Nation.".
[Charles Wilson, Baptized in Blood (1980)].


"With secession and the outbreak of the Civil War, Southern clergymen boldly proclaimed that the Confederacy had replaced the United States as God's chosen nation.". [Mitchell Snay, Gospel of Disunion: Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), p. 193f.]


Even prior to the War, South Carolinian politician, James Henry Hammond, boasted, "Our denominations are few, harmonious, pretty much united among themselves [especially on the issue of slavery - ED.], and pursue their avocations in humble peace...Few of the remarkable Isms of the present day have taken root among us. We have been so irreverent as to laugh at Mormonism and Millerism, which have created such commotions farther North; and modern prophets have no honor in our country. Shakers, Dunkers, Socialists, and the like, keep themselves afar off. You may attribute this to our domestic Slavery if you choose [the slaves being taught what to believe only by members of the 'few, harmonious' Southern churches - ED.]. I believe you would do so justly. There is no material here [in the South] for such characters [from the North] to operate upon...A people [like we Southerners] whose men are proverbially brave, intellectual and hospitable, and whose women are unaffectedly chaste, devoted to domestic life, and happy in it, can neither be degraded nor demoralized, whatever their institutions may be. My decided opinion is, that our system of Slavery contributes largely to the development and culture of these high and noble qualities...". [Drew Gilpin Faust, ed., The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), Chapter IV., "James Henry Hammond: Letter to an English Abolitionist," pp. 180, 181, 183, 184. Ironically, some of Hammond's "noble qualities" included seducing four of his young nieces. Later, his wife left him when he refused to stop seeing one of his female slaves by whom he had fathered a child. And Hammond told a close friend in 1857 that he was curious about the northern "Ism" called "Spiritualism." See, Carol Bleser, The Hammonds of Redcliffe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 9-12, 24.


Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, went further than Hammond in arguing for the superiority of southerners. A year after the war began, Davis publicly called northerners "miscreants," adding, "Were it ever to be proposed again to enter into a Union with such a people, I could no more consent to do it than to trust myself in a den of thieves...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...traditionless.". [Lynda Lasswell Crist, Mary Seaton Dix, and Kenneth H. Williams, eds., The Papers of Jefferson Davis (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995), Vol. 8, p. 567.]


Speaking of the South's "traditions," Jefferson Davis boasted, "It [slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts...Let the gentleman go to Revelation to learn the decree of God - let him go to the Bible...I said that slavery was sanctioned in the Bible, authorized, regulated, and recognized from Genesis to Revelation...Slavery existed then in the earliest ages, and among the chosen people of God; and in Revelation we are told that it shall exist till the end of time shall come. You find it in the Old and New Testaments - in the prophecies, psalms, and the epistles of Paul; you find it recognized, sanctioned everywhere.". [Jefferson Davis, Vol. 1, by Dunbar Rowland, pp. 286 & 316-317.] Davis' defenses of slavery are legion, as in his speech to Congress in 1848, "If slavery be a sin, it is not yours. It does not rest on your action for its origin, on your consent for its existence. It is a common law right to property in the service of man; its origin was Divine decree."


After 1856, Davis reiterated in most of his public speeches that he was "tired" of apologies for "our institution." "African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing.".[Dodd, pp. 107, 154, 168. ] Or, as Davis reiterated after being elected President of the Confederacy, "My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses...We recognize the negro as God and God's Book and God's Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him - our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude...You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be."
[. Kenneth C. Davis, Don't Know Much About the Civil War: Everything You Need to Know About America's Greatest Conflict But Never Learned (New York: Avon Books, 1996), p. 156.]

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