Friday, April 25, 2014

Aftermath of the War to Preserve the Union

By laying down its arms, the Southern States were led to believe they would return to a restored and peaceful Union under the Constitution.   A vindictive Radical Republican Congress passed its Reconstruction Act on 2 March 1867; this and the North's Union League and Loyal League ushered in a predictable reaction called the Ku Klux Klan.
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"
Aftermath of the War to Preserve the Union
"{When Robert E.] Lee was called to testify before Congress in February 1866 by Radical Republicans to show that the South was unready for self-government . . . he seemed to fell, as the Klan soon began to proclaim, that the Constitution of the United States was being subverted by Radical Republicans for their political ends. 
On January 27, 1866, [Lee] wrote a friendly [US] senator that pursuit of "a policy which will continue the prostration of one-half the country, alienate the affections of its inhabitants from the Government, and . . . eventually result in injury to the country and to the American people, appears to me so manifestly injudicious that I do not see how those responsible can tolerate it."
To men of Lee's political views, to say nothing of [Nathan Bedford] Forrest's, opposing the Radical revolutionary subversion of the old Constitution would have been patriotism.  
Dividing the remaining ex-Confederate States into five military districts and declaring their governments provisional and subject to orders from Union soldiers stationed within them, the Reconstruction Act was enacted by a Radical-leaning Congress over the veto of [President] Andrew Johnson. 
The Act's overtones and reverberations led Klan leaders to arm for battle; the entire South, they understandably felt, now could look forward to the woes ex-Confederate Tennesseans were suffering under [Governor] Brownlow. In the spring of 1867, the governor vowed that he would enforce his Disenfranchisement Law - and that "[If] to do so it becomes necessary that there shall be violence and bloodshed, so be it."
To the recent Confederates, Brownlow's domain had become a frightening place where the Union League and the Loyal Leagues were armed, militant and seemingly winning their long-published and much-feared demands that plantations of once wealthy ex-Confederates be carved into farms of "forty acres and a mule" for freed blacks. 
Even ex-Confederates who owned no land apparently thought they faced a future in which the possibility of obtaining any was declining rapidly; the financial outlook was ruinous. [Those supporting the Klan explained that] . . . ignorant ex-slaves, elected to City Councils and State Legislatures, and dominated by carpetbaggers who had come from the North to plunder the South, voted millions of dollars of bonds for which little or no value was received" – and then the "federal courts ordered mayors of cities to levy taxes big enough to pay 100 cents on the dollar."
(Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography, Jack Hurst, Vintage Books, 1993, pp. 286; 289-290)