Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Jacobin Machine in Command


The radical Republican Jacobins in late 1862 exerted great pressure on Lincoln to publish his emancipation edict in order to destroy the agrarian economic system of the South; they threatened to defeat all his appropriations for war supplies if he resisted.  Lincoln was quoted as saying that he would have been superseded by a dictator had he refused to proclaim emancipation.  The Radicals demanded a desolate and subjugated South and using the unwitting freedmen as a voting automatons to ensure their political hegemony over the now-centralized, and no longer federal, United States.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman

North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission

"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"

"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

The Jacobin Machine in Command:

In the Senate [Benjamin] Wade voiced his conviction that the final triumph of the Jacobin revolution was at hand.  No longer was the war being prosecuted for the vain and empty purpose of restoring the Union with slavery intact, he boasted.  The Republican party, he cried, would force the southern States to purge themselves of all the iniquities of their social system before it permitted them to come back into the Union:  "We will govern them until they do right . . . "

Wade offered a resolution to invoke reprisals . . .carried out by men who had suffered in Confederate prisons. He avowed himself willing to accept any measures of retaliation: "I will make the South a desolation, and every traitor   shall lose his life . . . "

Now in the early months of 1865 it was clear to all observers that the Confederacy would soon collapse. With the approach of victory and peace, reconstruction became a dominant issue to the exclusion of all other questions.  Upon what terms were the defeated Southern States to be returned to the Union?  The Jacobins had moved far beyond their position as announced in the Wade-Davis bill. No longer were they content to accept emancipation as the great result of the war. Now they demanded as the price of readmission a program which would ensure Republican control of the South.

They had no mind to see unrepentant Southern Democrats returning to Congress and in alliance with their Northern [Democrat] fellows destroying the economic measures passed by the Republicans during the war: the protective tariff, the national banking system, and the homestead bill. They demanded the suffrage for the freed slaves and the disenfranchisement of a substantial portion of the Southern white population.

Some of them, like [Thaddeus] Stevens, advocated the distribution of confiscated rebel property among former slaves. They demanded that until their policies became a reality the seceded States be governed by the military as "conquered provinces." Over the issue of reconstruction Lincoln and the Jacobins fought their last titanic battle.  Again the Jacobins were to defeat their great antagonist."

(Lincoln and the Radicals, T. Harry Williams, University of Wisconsin Press, 1965, excerpts pp. 351-357)