Generals Jackson & Lee: Never Forget

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed— if all records told the same tale— then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.” (George Orwell, 1984)

I have no grandiloquent word to offer to mark this tragedy, only some amateur photographs taken of the Jackson & Lee equestrian statue during 2015 and 2016 when my family and I resided in Baltimore, MD. You can read about the statue on Wikipedia here. It isn’t difficult to find better pictures of this monument— for it was a monument, not just a statue— on the internet via Google image-search. But the pictures I took are mine, and I share them as such. I only regret that I did not take more.

“Purpose So Great”

The pedestal does not actually say “Purpose So Great.” “Purpose” is the last word of the inscription on Gen. Jackson’s side of the pedestal, “So Great,” the first two on Gen. Lee’s side of the pedestal. The two inscriptions read as follows:

“So great is my confidence in General Lee that I am willing to follow him blindfolded.”

 

“Straight as the needle to the pole, Jackson advanced to the execution of my purpose.”

Yet when you took in the majestic frontal view of the monument, you simply read “Purpose So Great,” the generals’ mutual salutes elided in a shared epitaph. I don’t know if this was intentional, but it was beautiful.

The north steps bore this inscription:

They were great generals and Christian soldiers and waged war like gentlemen.

Yes, they were, and yes, they did. And although the memory of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, once enshrined in bronze and stone by a generation who recognized their Christianity, their magnanimity, their courage, and their virtue, will not fade entirely from the hearts and minds of the few, it would be all too glib and Pollyannish to pretend that the torch of memory will burn as powerfully in the future. It cannot. The memory of man needs memorials and monuments. These re-present the past to the present. These kindle the torch. The left— which has always been and always will be the perpetual enemy of goodness, truth, beauty, tradition, honor, the flourishing of man, and the Christian religion— knows this. That is why they are systematically razing such monuments to the ground. And don’t think that your Yankee monuments will make it through what’s coming— they will not.

A few more pictures are below; my commentary follows.

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It’s a truism to say that our country is changing. When one marks just how it is changing, though, when one witnesses the barbaric desecration of public monuments and the white-hot hatred of tradition, one cannot but feel that we are at an acute ending of an era. What can cauterize these wounds?

If someone pipes up with “The Gospel,” I’m going to club a baby seal. Metabasis eis allo genos. I’m talking about our earthly home. I know and take comfort in the truth that when our earthly tent is destroyed, we have “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I know that “here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” That is true, and that is good, and that is not what I’m talking about— again, I am talking about our earthly home. I am talking about civilization, tradition, and culture. These desecrations do affect us, including those of us who are pilgrims on a peregrination to the City of God.

We dare not love the world such that we let these tragedies cause us to lose faith. Of course, this is easier said than done: we have no strength in ourselves to forestall such loss; we must fly to the Word of God, pray the litany, sing psalms and hymns, go to the divine service, and console ourselves with our Christian brethren. We should not mourn as those who have no hope. And yet, to not mourn at all in the face of real cultural losses is to grow callouses upon one’s soul, and I believe that this, too, endangers the life of faith. We Lutherans are perhaps more susceptible to this second malady, more prone, in fact, to attempts at recasting it as a virtue. The history of our church is the history of strife, persecution, discord, war, and loss. We have never been regnant and orthodox at the same time in a realm for more than a few generations at a time, if that— suffice it to say, the era of nationalism makes judging this even harder. We are used to ugliness, perhaps too much so. We have a tendency toward hardbitten stoicism. Mind you, this does bear certain good fruits: it is good— invaluable, even— to know what it’s like to have nothing else but the Word and promise of God. But when the persecution subsides and war becomes an historical artifact and our lives become comfortable, we wake up and find that we have no memory of how to furnish our earthly tent in such a way that we, its occupants, will flourish in the absence of persecution and war. Not knowing what else to do, we fill the vacuum with kitsch— kitsch music, kitsch liturgy, kitsch architecture, kitsch literature, kitsch art. I would submit, though, that the ugliness of war and persecution is better than the kitsch of peace. It was better when we had only the Word. Now that we have the freedom to cultivate real culture, we realize that, by and large, we no longer know how.

Perhaps this is far afield from Jackson & Lee. Perhaps you are somewhat incensed that this event, and not some other, has galvanized this contemplation of mine. Why am I not writing this about Roe v. Wade? I am not not writing it about Roe v. Wade. I am simply attempting to articulate that the erasure of monuments which is now underway— the “memory-holing,” to adapt Orwell— is a loss, too, and should be mourned as such. The furniture of our earthly home matters, even if it is not our permanent dwelling, for we inhabit it as embodied souls. This is something which not just American Lutherans but Americans in general are especially prone to forget. We have no thousand-year old castles. We have no ancient ruins. Many on the right, broadly construed, are now trying to recover a deeper cultural heritage, but the physical handholds for our memory are small, and hoisting oneself upon them in an upward climb is difficult. Moreover, they are disappearing. Books are great, they really are. Reading about Generals Jackson and Lee is good, and you should do it sometime. But reading about these great men and then visiting the monument to them when you visit Baltimore (or elsewhere) is no longer an option. This is significant.

It should also be said that the memory-holing will not work. The left will scrub and scrape and burn and raze and forge and crusade forever in their attempt to make the world and its inhabitants in the image of Social Justice. But it will never be clean enough. The memory of all that they despise— all that mirrors to them their own degeneracy— will never be fully erased, for the evils real or perceived never can be completely purged. They will realize, increasingly (for the realizations are never not happening), that evil and disorder inhabits their own hearts. The same demonic urge which drives men to cut off their genitals and grow breasts drives men to rip down monuments and desecrate the memorials which have pointed-up civilization. As in private, so in public.

I cannot here explain at length that to which I have only asserted in passing, to wit: that “the left” is inherently anti-Christ, anti-civilization, etc., while “the right” is only potentially so. This is, however, my studied conviction, and I make no apologies for it.

+VDMA

25 Comments

  1. America only nation where traitors are treated luge heroes by purple whip claim to love America.

  2. America is the only place where traitors are honored as heroes by people who claim to love America.

  3. As for a comment on the posting itself, it was moving and thought provoking. It does feel that we are at the end of an era, and each of us needs to make a decision on where we stand and the new era that we shepherd in.

  4. @Delwyn, your comment is ignorant of the world, history, of America, and of Americans. It especially odd when considering that the US was founded by “traitors” to the English crown.

  5. Justin –

    Were I you (I am not, true) I would caution myself against such comments. “Traitor to the English crown”? Come, come, good man, certainly you can do better than that. What was there about the “English crown” that demanded allegiance to begin with? And if you say Scripture, I”ll beat T. David’s baby seal to death a second time. The English were the single most exploitive nation for several centuries – denying most all of the rights we take for granted. Ask the Irish – especially regarding the next 100 years after our own revolution. I don’t have them handy at the moment, but there are online actual receipts of the total pillage the English crown perpetrated on the Irish, as they attempted with the colonists here. Potato famine? Yeah, sure – after the pork famine, the beef famine, the mutton famine, et. al. ad nauseum – all courtesy of the “English crown.”

    And if you go for the “Traitor” bit – then I suppose Luther was a “traitor” to the Lord Christ, and we remain mired in our sins and ignorance theologically.

    And we are reaching the end of an era – the column clearly shows that. Which was the author’s point.

    Apparently you need a bit of schooling on actual history yourself!

    • Jeff, you are having the wrong argument with the wrong person. Yes, you are not me. If you were, I wouldn’t have to respond to explain things to you in detail. But communication takes two, so I guess part of the misunderstanding must be on my failure to clearly communicate to the readers of this post. I misjudged what was needed. I’m not going to discuss the Irish…that’s a completely tangent. I will say that I might as well call Martin Luther a traitor to the Roman Catholic Church. That is in line with the point I’m making. So let’s get to that. The original comment by Delwyn X. Campbell is that (i) General Robert E. Lee is a traitor (presumably to the United States of America); (ii) Americans honor General Lee as a Hero; and (iii) this is a unique phenomenon to Americans. I take opposition to (i) and (iii). Assuming the truth of (i), (iii) is demonstrably false. But my comment was directed at (i), the idea that General Lee is a traitor. Calling General Lee a traitor is akin to calling the Founding Fathers traitors. Both are false from an American perspective. Now the English and Americans who were loyalists. But to Americans, then as now, the Founding Fathers were not traitors, they were patriots. And so was General Lee. It might not make as much sense to those today, especially those who are historically ignorant or not Americans, but General Lee was a Virginian. And state citizenship mattered more in that time than it does today. He was a Virginian patriot. It also has to be remembered that the primacy of the Federal government was something that was more firmly established after the Civil War and over time since then. Calling General Lee a traitor to the United States of America is akin to calling Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen et al traitors to the EU. It’s a ridiculous statement that is rooted in ignorance. So yes, the Founding Fathers were not traitors to the crown (at least from the American perspective, but yes from those who were loyalists). And from the perspective of the Roman Catholic church, Martin Luther was a traitor. I’m not sure what your fixation on the Irish are and I would disagree with your assertion that it was the most exploitative of any period, but you are certainly right that a fundamental reason for the revolutionary war was Americans defending their rights as Englishmen. Now, to connect it back to the current issues, we are at a period where there are multiple factions determining the future of the US of a magnitude that is similar to that of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. We have the traditional American nationalists that place important on the people from the blood and soil that brought us through the Revolutionary War and Civil War (including honoring the good patriots and men who made the country we are today through those periods) to make us who we are today. The second are the civic nationalists that say anyone can be an American even if they are only US citizens by paper and do not share the culture of those that established it. The third are the globalists do not want nations and countries to have any real meaning in our world. This is certainly a new era, and it is uncertain what will happen to the current US as a result. I hope I’ve been clearer on where I stand, so feel free to disagree with me on what you will, but I hope at this point understand my position.

      • State sovereignty really ended when the Constitution was adopted in 1788. Only under the Articles of Confederation could the Union be likened to the EU. Many people continued to conceive of the Union in the same way as they had before, but the shape of the government had truly changed.

        • Nicholas, you’ve made several comments in response to my comments that are quite confusing. Who said slavery was a fiction? Despite at least acknowledging that “Many people continued to conceive of the Union in the same way as they had before”, you claim that “State sovereignty really ended when the Constitution was adopted” and “the shape of the government had truly changed”. Sure, the shape of the government changed when the Constitution adopted, and again with each Amendment. That’s not really saying anything. But the claim that state sovereignty really ended is a curious way to put it. I’m not sure what you mean by “really ended” or how that might be different than “ended”, so I’m going to assume you mean ended. I would like to understand where that claims comes from since it would be contrary to the ratifying states that they felt they were giving up sovereignty. They were agreeing to Federal form of government that was limited to the authorization given by the states to the Federal government. States rights didn’t end with the Constitution as evidenced by the question of secession that has endured throughout American history (despite the claim of some that the Civil War settled the question on whether states had a right to secede). Can you also elaborate on your criticism of Thomas DiLorenzo? You linked to a book review (without citations) that criticizes DiLorenzo’s analysis and perception of Lincoln written by a man who has written several books about Lincoln from an opposing framework and perspective. Hardly convincing. And Delwyn X. Campbell provided a simplistic comment expressing an unfavorable opinion of America and Americans. Based on that comment, the impression is that he doesn’t like America. But past experience here indicates that misunderstandings can arise, so I’m willing to hear out an explanation of his comment that indicates that he likes America and change my opinion.

          • Obviously the Constitution didn’t do away with states’ rights. The Constitution indeed established a federal system, not a unitary one. But under the Constitution, only the federal government is *sovereign.* This was the understanding of the Federalist designers of the Constitution, as well as of the Marshall Court. My point was that your EU analogy may apply to the United States under the Articles, but not under the Constitution (even before the Civil War).

            Belz’s review did contain page number citations to DiLorenzo’s book in the text of his review. He’s not the only historian to take issue with DiLorenzo’s work. I view his book as an example, as Belz said, of trying to “use—or abuse—the historical record for ideological purposes.” Basically a Libertarian polemic. He also dwells on Lincoln’s racial views as if it’s relevant. No historically informed person would claim that Lincoln was against racism. One can be convicted against slavery and still racist, and racism wasn’t controversial in Lincoln’s day.

          • Nicholas, so the Constitution didn’t do away with states rights, but only the Federal government is sovereign? What is the definition of sovereign that you are using? And the EU analogy for the US works today. Yes, the EU is not the US, and yes, there are differences between the EU and the US. The point of analogy is to draw comparisons. You might be able to say that you think that the US under the Articles has more in common with the EU than the US after ratification of the Constitution, but the EU can still be an analogy for the US after ratification of the Constitution. And some would say that the analogy became stronger. The analogy is of states ceding power to a centralized pan-state governmental authority. Lastly, you are getting pretty far afield on DiLorenzo. I wasn’t criticizing the linked book report for not citing page numbers within DiLorenzo’s book. I was criticizing it for being a bunch of assertions made by the author that were not supported by citation to a source to support the author’s position. I have to admit I haven’t read DiLorenzo’s book, but I am curious now since you seem to be so upset by it. I would say that in other areas where Lincoln’s view on race and slavery were discussed, the intent was either to (i) correct misconceptions about Lincoln’s views on race and slavery; (ii) to show that Lincoln’s private thoughts may not have always aligned with his public positions (not uncommon for politicians); and (iii) that his motivations for his positions may have been more complicated than some acknowledge. Are you saying that historians and writers should ignore Lincoln’s views on race and slavery and not do any of those three things because Lincoln was just a man of his times? I thought we weren’t supposed to excuse, let alone honor, those dead white males from America’s past that were so racist we should burn their statues, like was done to Lincoln’s statue recently. It’s sad.

          • What DiLorenzo’s trying to do is claim that Lincoln wasn’t really anti-slavery, and was just a cynical opportunist about that issue, because he held racist views about black people. It’s a confusion of issues.

            I don’t support the mad frenzy to take down every statue and monument and rename every building. It’s true that some Confederate monuments were erected in the 50’s and 60’s as statements of resistance against integration. I wouldn’t care if those particular statues came down because of the intent behind their being set up in the first place.

            Unfortunately, the calls for iconoclasm are being extended to every important figure in American history. I want no part of that.

          • Again, I haven’t read DiLorenzo’s book, but a brief glance seems to indicate that you might be overstating his claim, and that an exploration of whether Lincoln was prone to the flaws that seem to afflict many politicians (e.g., wanting a signature issue to put their stamp on America, partisanship, pursuit of power, etc.) that might have impacted the way he pursued policies sounds interesting. And I can’t help but notice the changing light in which you cast him. As I said, I’ll have to read his book myself. Thanks for the suggestion.
            And thanks for the clarification that your position on the removal of statues is that you wouldn’t mind if there was a review of the original intent in erecting each statue to determine whether the intent is objectionable to some group of people…likely violent, vandal leftists. I just believe that position is a flawed position that cedes an inch to a group that is not interested in compromises. It inevitably leads to the iconoclasm you want no part of. Unfortunately, those are the options the violent, vandal leftists have given us.

  6. Justin –

    That is much clearer, and please accept my “mea culpa” for my tone. I have no love lost for the English, not as an American, nor having my Irish lineage. It is not a fixation, but a simple fact. I know what my ancestors went through at the hands of the English. I stand firmly and squarely here, in your words:

    We have the traditional American nationalists that place important on the people from the blood and soil that brought us through the Revolutionary War and Civil War (including honoring the good patriots and men who made the country we are today through those periods) to make us who we are today.

    You are correct in your estimation of Delwyn’s comment. He does betray a good deal of ignorance, and I suspect, no small amount of dislike for America. His call. This nation has plenty of its own faults, but the world rushes for the safe haven America is, despite what our own internal critics say. Lee and the others – they held firmly to the Constitutional concept of states rights, not the fiction of the slavery issue as it is presented today. They had a decision to make. If anyone acted dishonorably, one ought to read Thomas DiLorenzo on Lincoln. Doing so would open some eyes for sure.

    Again – please accept my apologies for jumping a bit too hastily. My fault entirely. Pax – jb

    • Jeff, it is good to get your response. I was hopeful it was a mere misunderstanding. You are wrong to say it is your fault entirely. The more I see my initial response, the more I think it would only make sense in my head. You’ve given me the chance to correct that, so thanks. And again to the author I want to express my thanks for this site. This is the first I’ve commented at this site, but I’ve read many articles here that have made me pause and reflect. I appreciate having a site like this posting on the topics is does and the benefit it brings.

      • Hi Justin and Jeff. Thanks for the comments, and thanks for talking through your misunderstanding like Christian gentlemen — why, what more fitting context could there be for that than a reflection on Gens. Lee and Jackson, two Christian gentlemen! Truly, that was commendable civility on both your parts.

        I’m glad that you have appreciated this site. Thanks for reading. Cheers. –TDD

    • Hmm… “ignorance and… dislike for America.” My words were an observation that I know of no other nation where statues honoring people who fought AGAINST the established government are erected. If you know of one, feel free to enlighten me. By your estimation, Frederick Douglas would have been historically ignorant and dislike America, as would Langston Hughes. Well, I have the Honorable Discharge for serving this nation, and a history of participating in the electoral process, that allows me to argue otherwise. You have spoken ill of a Confessional Evangelical pastor who currently serves as a national missionary to a community that helped make this nation what it is today. Now that I have cleared up my perspective, it is up to you whether you will apologize and seek forgiveness, or whether you will attempt to defend the libelous accusation that you have made concerning my opinion puff this nation where I was born, and where my ancestors shed blood and worked in the soil that you esteem so highly, and, contrary to Scripture, without compensation for their work. My family members continued to be productive citizens for the next 100 years, even while they were denied the constitutional rights and protections that they had earned in blood, sweat, and toil. I enjoy privileges, such as voting, and freedom of assembly, that were restricted even as late as the lifetimes of my grandparents. “I, too, sing “America”… I, too, AM America!”
      May the peace of the Lord be with you.

      • Delwyn X. Campbell,

        As an initial matter, for the purposes of this discussion I’m not concerned with whether you’ve served in the US military or are a Confessional Evangelical pastor. I can commend you on both and hope that the Holy Spirit guides you in fulfilling your work as a pastor. But neither of those give you any special status above anyone else or prevents others from being able to disagree with you, especially on matters of law, culture, and policy.

        In terms of people who fight against “their” government, I did not disagree that the government would consider them traitors. Hence my comment that the British government viewed the founders of our country as traitors. You missed the point. I will quote Grant, who likewise honored Lee, “The war is over. The rebels are our countrymen again.” Your inability to honor Lee or anyone who fought on the side of the Confederacy (which was more “diverse” than most think), to separate the men from their cause, or to recognize them as countrymen and part of our heritage is unfortunate. But thsoe of us who don’t have that inability or perhaps for other reasons altogether will continue to insist that it is just fine to honor Lee and our American heritage.

        I’m not sure what Frederick Douglas or Langston Hughes have to do with this other than it being some attempt to say that criticizing your statement is the same as criticizing these other people? I readily admit there are probable statements made by either of those two that I would criticize. I’ve even criticized some of my own past statements before. But do you believe “hate” and “dislike” are the same? Do you deny that your “observation” on America conveys and was intended to convey your dislike of America? Or if you want to be hyper-precise your dislike for at least a certain aspect of America? I’m not sure how else to take it. If you would like to clarify your observation, I am all ears, but so far you have not provided anything to explain how your statement wasn’t a negative assessment of America? You’ve merely cited the fact that you’ve served in the military (many have, willingly and unwillingly, including in the Civil War, and some were traitors and treasonous that did), that you are a pastor (irrelevant), something about Douglas and Hughes (again irrelevant), and so on.

        And the Black Panther Party? Are we really comparing them to state governments seceding from Federal government? I think that is a ridiculous comparison. But if you want to talk about Black nationalism and want to defend the Black Panther Party’s actions in seeking separatism and a Black nation state, please elaborate on how you view them…traitors to the US, heroes of the Black community, something else? You seem to indicate that we should honor them and celebrate them as heroes for a legacy of certain state welfare programs that you attribute to their work? Is that your point? So are you conceding that if someone finds some redeeming qualities in those who fought on the side of the Confederacy, we can honor them as heroes too? Or do you have some other point in mentioning them?

        While you may not know of other countries that honor “traitors”, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. That’s not how it works. I mentioned the British earlier in comparing your comments to the Revolutionary War. The UK would be a good example for you. Or how about France? I could go on, but the point is that one doesn’t have to look far for examples that your “observation” is really just a false statement.

        And again, I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you in your service to His people.

  7. Nicholas –

    You wrote:

    Obviously the Constitution didn’t do away with states’ rights. The Constitution indeed established a federal system, not a unitary one. But under the Constitution, only the federal government is *sovereign.* This was the understanding of the Federalist designers of the Constitution, as well as of the Marshall Court. My point was that your EU analogy may apply to the United States under the Articles, but not under the Constitution (even before the Civil War).

    Belz’s review did contain page number citations to DiLorenzo’s book in the text of his review. He’s not the only historian to take issue with DiLorenzo’s work. I view his book as an example, as Belz said, of trying to “use—or abuse—the historical record for ideological purposes.” Basically a Libertarian polemic. He also dwells on Lincoln’s racial views as if it’s relevant. No historically informed person would claim that Lincoln was against racism. One can be convicted against slavery and still racist, and racism wasn’t controversial in Lincoln’s day.

    Belz is as much one-sided as you accuse Di Lorenzo of being. So what if DiLorenzo is a Libertarian? Belz is a hard-core federalist, as was Lincoln. The issues remain the issues, and contrary to what you say, Lincoln’s racist views and policies did indeed have much to do with the CW. Pretending it was just all about slavery – one might as well go out with Antifa and BLM and yank down the statues. And then or now, over 600,000 American lives were wasted on the conflict, for what? To give us the leviathan that today rules over every facet of American life? Was that the intent of the Founders and their “limited government?”

    I think not.

    Despite what the courts have decided in favor of federalism (like they have had a choice – being “federal courts?) in the decades since Lincoln, the Constitution contained the 10th Amendment, which specifically prohibited the federal government from imposing its absolute rule upon the states. Had otherwise been the case, the Constitution would have never passed to begin with.

    I find Belz far more a Lincoln apologist than I do a historian. Lincoln’s very behavior toward those that opposed him in the north speaks for itself, and the fact then the EP did not free slaves in the Northern States, nor did Lincoln have a problem whatsoever suspending habeus corpus. Whether or not one is in favor of removing statues, the facts stubbornly remain just that – facts. Belz did little to dispel anything DiLorenzo has written.

    And like Justin, I am not really sure of your point except to say (myself) that you do not appear to be a 10th Amendment fan and you apparently greatly favor federalism. If nothing else, a little clarity by you on both those issues might be helpful. It is clear you don’t like DiLorenzo and favor Belz; I the exact opposite, and with the original meaning of the 10th on my side.

    Pax – jb

  8. My main point is to emphasize that the primary motivating factor leading the Southern states to secede was concern over Northern opposition to the institution of slavery and the fear, after the election of Lincoln, that he and the Republicans would attempt to abolish it (in spite of Lincoln’s promises to the contrary). The Southern states’ declarations of their reasons for secession say as much: https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/declaration-causes-seceding-states

    It was not mere disagreements over the nature of federalism, divorced from the controversy over slavery, that motivated the South to secede. The sectional debates over slavery had been brewing for decades since the Missouri Compromise, and the acquisition of territory from Mexico in 1848 exacerbated the issue.

    I don’t view myself as an apologist for Lincoln or Federalism, but rather as an opponent of what I see as a distorted and revisionist version of the history of the Civil War. Most modern defenders of the cause of the CSA seriously downplay or even deny the preservation of slavery as the motive for secession, and then try to cast Lincoln in the worst possible light. I also believe adopting this pro-CSA position does harm to our witness as Christians today, and it’s not even based on an accurate representation of the historical facts.

    From my studies in the early history of the United States, I’ve learned that both views of federal and state authority, each one embraced by an opposite side of the Civil War, have been around since the Republic’s founding. Hamilton would most likely have sided with the Union, and Jefferson may very likely have sided with the Confederacy.

    Looking at these events theologically, from a Confessional Lutheran perspective, I do not consider the either the American Revolution or the South’s secession in 1861 to meet the standard of Scripture (cf. Romans 13:1-6) or of Just War theory. And I bring up Just War theory because the South’s assault on Fort Sumter was undeniably an act of war (in spite of the lack of casualties, which could not have been planned ahead of time anyway). Just from the perspective of the side that chooses to fire the first shot, regardless of how righteous or not your cause is, you had better be prepared for the enemy’s retaliation and the war that follows. Also, if you know that your secession itself will likely lead to a war, I believe you are beholden to the Biblical requirements of a just war as well. Historically, nations rarely respond well when parts of their territory attempt to break off.

    As for the Union, I wouldn’t say that its motives or prosecution of the war necessarily met the requirements of Just War theory either, except the requirement that war was declared by those who had the authority to do so (Congress).

    The war was devastating, the most devastating was this country has ever fought. And I won’t argue that it also had political ramifications, and that the federal government has increased since then (though the current situation is in many ways the result of later actors: Woodrow Wilson, FDR, etc.). Do we know that this wouldn’t have happened anyway if the South had won the war? No, we don’t know that; it’s just speculation. There is one great positive result of the Union’s victory in the war, and that is the abolition of chattel slavery in America (and the claim that American slavery was naturally “on its way out” isn’t necessarily supported by the evidence). So hopefully this will give you a better idea of where I’m coming from.

    As for Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, it’s important to acknowledge that Jefferson Davis did the same: https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/the-great-writ-north-and-south/?mcubz=1 In such a crisis as the Civil War, such an action by either side shouldn’t be surprising, even if we don’t agree with it.

  9. Nicholas –

    I should add – three very well respected authorities, in their own rights, agree with DiLorenzo.

    “A devastating critique of America’s most famous president.”
    —Joseph Sobran, commentator and nationally syndicated columnist

    “Today’s federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. Thomas J. DiLorenzo gives an account of how this came about in The Real Lincoln.”
    —Walter E. Williams, from the foreword

    “A peacefully negotiated secession was the best way to handle all the problems facing Americans in 1860. A war of coercion was Lincoln’s creation. It sometimes takes a century or more to bring an important historical event into perspective. This study does just that and leaves the reader asking, ‘Why didn’t we know this before?'”
    —Donald Livingston, professor of philosophy, Emory University

    I can supply much more on Lincoln’s anti-constitutional war – leading up to and after his war began. Lincoln had far more in common with the semi-commie Woodrow Wilson and the full-blown commie FDR, than he did with our Founders. He refused to be denied – the decline in the outrageous tariff income the North forced on the South was killing the North, and rather than remedy the situation politically, and perhaps taking a step backwards, 600,000+ men died from Lincoln’s ambitions. If Belz is justifying that, then he does not qualify as a historian, but as a shill, no matter his degrees. And I am not sure you have noted in the 14 years since DiLorenzo first published his original book on Lincoln, no one of serious note has refuted it, and as I noted above, very intense minds have supported it. And if anyone doubts still – the suspension of habeas corpus and the forced closing of more than 300 newspapers tell the historical tale best of all.

    FYI – Pax – jb

  10. Nicholas –

    I trust our discussion is mutually fraternal – both in historical disagreement, but more important, as brothers in the household of faith. No axe to grind here.

    I simply do not accept slavery as the core issue of the War, because such an assertion is, as I see it, patently false. There were far too many other factors, including the tariff war that was ongoing, and very much in the North’s favor. Davis did not shut down habeas – there was none yet in the South per se. He did not close newspapers in anywhere near the volume Lincoln did, and of course “half a Congress” WOULD approve the War from the North’s perspective because their very livelihood was threatened – their “iron gravy bowls” as it were – same then as now. And the actions of the North following the War are even more revealing, and cannot be discounted. The carpetbaggers raped the decimated South with the open North’s approval. Johnson’s actions . . . on and on it goes.

    Just War? Not even close. There was nothing “just” about the Civil War – nothing nothing nothing justified 600,000+ dead – not counting the countless number maimed for life, businesses and farms destroyed, nor can Sherman’s march ever be justified by any “Just War” theory.

    The issue was tariffs – the North blockaded the South – and the main crop – cotton – could not be exported, and what was, was taxed (uh, “tariffed” – like a foreign country) at an exorbitant rate. Slavery was an attendant issue, but not the leading cause by any means – that, if anything, is manufactured as a reason in our day and age, not then! The North, and Lincoln, were trying to financially break the back of the South for their own benefit! And as DiLorenzo, and other scholars who disagree with Belz and the Lincoln confessionalists have clearly revealed, Lincoln was duplicitous to the nth degree. He has merely been lionized by the winning side. I believe that was the general gist of the original premise of this entire column to begin with – with Orwell’s quote.

    The winning side writes the history – right or wrong!

    Of course the South would mention slavery – at the time – it was their labor – much as businesses today clamor for immigration – cheap labor. But as you yourself admitted, it was already a controversy, and would have disappeared without Lincoln’s War. Lincoln needed to the War to stave off the Democrats, who would have likely blown past his re-election bid. Like every flipping politician who has ever lived and wasted good oxygen, Ole “Honest” Abe was willing to oversee the immense and flipping bloody slaughter of his own countrymen to keep his sorry posterior in office! There were black freemen fighting alongside the Confederates. Were they mistaken, perhaps? Were those like Lee, or Jackson, who defended their states’ stance – somehow less versed in the Constitution than are we who live in such an enlightened age that we are (or permitting) tearing down the Constitution brick by brick? The North was so sure of Lee’s “American-ness” that it asked him to command the Northern forces. He declined. Why? Because he knew that Constitutionally, Viriginia had a definitive right to secede, and he was willing to fight for the American Constitution and its freedoms on behalf of his home state.

    We don’t get to make up history and then even begin to speak in terms of “just” or ‘”truth.” Slavery was not the direct cause of the war. That is pure 20th century revisionism at best and jingoism, and rank conjecture at worst! If a historian will not “check his political preferences at the door” – he has no part in the discussion, no matter how pertinent his opinion. Such a one does not seek the truth, but justification of what he thinks. Much like today’s 97% of climate scientists.

    I was once where you are regarding Lincoln. No more.

    Pax – jb

  11. 1. As a former USAF Security Specialist and USNR Journalist, with an honorable discharge, the idea that I “hate America” is amusing. In almost any history that I have studied, people who fight against the duly established government are viewed – by that government – as insurrectionists, traitors, or similar terms.
    Whatever his reasons, Robert E. Lee and his colleagues were engaged in a war against the U.S. government to exit that government. If they thought that they had the right to do so, they should have pursued their rights in the duly constituted courts. Instead, they took up arms against the government. In what sense are they patriots, but the Black Panther Party was a radical group whose legacy includes free school lunches and after school tutoring?
    So, you were wrong to accuse me of hating, or even disliking the U.S.A. I do dislike the C.S.A., but since that is only of historical significance, it is unimportant.

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