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Some Truths of History (I) by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby

A Vindication of the South Against the Encyclopedia Britannica and Other Maligners
Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby


Since the Evolution days the few thinkers of America born south of Mason and Dixon's line — out-numbered by those belonging to the single State of Massachusetts — have commonly migrated to New York or Boston in search of a university training. In the world of letters, at least, the Southern States have shone by reflected light; nor is it too much to say that mainly by their connection with the North the Carolinas have been saved from sinking to the level of Mexico or the Antilles. Like the Spartan marshaling his helots, the planter lounging among his slaves was made dead to art. It has only flourished freely in a free soil, and for almost all its vitality and aspirations we must turn to New England." — Encyclopedia Britannica {ninth edition), Volume 1, p. 719. 

If the sons and daughters of the South do not themselves uphold the truth of history, "the dust on antique time will lie unswept, and mountainous error be too highly heaped for truth to overpeer." As my mite towards averting a consummation so much to be deprecated, I desire to place before the public, through the columns of the Advertiser, in answer to the statements of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a summary of historical facts, showing that to the South, far more than to any other section, is this Union indebted for the genius, wisdom, enterprise, patriotism and valor that have given it so proud an eminence among the nations of the earth. I purpose to fix these facts in the firmament of truth, so grouped that the most care- 

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less observer of that field can easily see and comprehend them; and so that the children of the South can readily grasp them, and with them confound the maligners of their fathers and their native land whenever occasion calls for their defense. The material for this purpose being too abundant to be comprised in a single article of appropriate length for the columns of a daily paper, this will, if you please, be followed by other articles in refutation of the Britannica's slur upon the South, and exposing its general worthlessness as an encyclopedia for Americans, and especially for Southern people. 

I will begin, then, the purposed refutation and exposure of the Britannica with the following simple statement of historic facts: 

The first President of the United States, and the most illustrious American — "the man first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen;" the commander-in-chief of the army, under whose leadership the colonies won their independence, and on whom, by common acclaim, is bestowed the title, "the father of his country," — was a Southern man. 

The commander-in-chief of the Continental navy in the war of the Revolution was a Southern man, 1 so was the first President of the Continental Congress 2, and a Southern member of that Congress was the author and mover of the adoption of the resolution declaring the Colonies free and independent States. 3

1. James Nicholson. 2. Peyton Randolph. 3. Richard Henry Lee. 

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The greatest American orator — the man whose words most inspired the American heart and nerved the American arm in the struggle for independence — was a Southern man [Patrick Henry]. 

The world's greatest Democrat, the author of the Declaration of Independence — the most famous production of an American pen — was a Southern man, and when the peoples of the United States met to celebrate the Centennial of that Declaration it was a Southern man [Thomas Jefferson] who was selected to write the poem for the opening of that Centennial. 1 

''The father of the Constitution" was a Southern man; 2 its greatest expounder — the greatest American jurist 3 — was a Southern man f and when, in the fulness of time, the peoples of the Union came to celebrate the Centennial of that immortal instrument, it was a Southern man who was the chosen orator of that memorable and imposing occasion. 4 

For more than half the period of its existence the Government formed by that Constitution was administered by Presidents who were Southern men, and the years of their administrations mark immeasurably the happiest, most illustrious and beneficent eras of the Union. But nine men have been twice elected to the office of President of the United States; six of them were Southern men and six were slaveholders, and the only administration during which there was but one 

1. Sidney Lanier. 3. John Marshall. 2. James Madison. 4. Samuel F. Miller. 

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defaulter — and he for a very small sum — was that of John Tyler, a Southern man. 

It was the statesmanship of a Southern President, 1 seconded by the ability of a Southern diplomat, 2 that extended the boundary of the United States from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean on the northwest, thus adding to them a territory greater in extent than their original limits; it was Southern valor and Southern statesmanship that carried the boundary on the southwest from the Sabine to the Rio Grande, and added Texas, New Mexico and California to the United States — an addition of 20,000 square miles more than the original thirteen States had; it was the prowess of a Southern soldier 3 that secured to the Republic all that territory northwest of the Ohio river, of which the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota, were afterwards made; the policy that made that territory public domain — the common property of all the States — was the policy that has done more than any other to build up the Union, and it is indebted for that policy to the wisdom and patriotism of the Southern States of Maryland and Virginia, — to Maryland for proposing and urging it, and to Virginia for acceding to it, for that territory belonged to her, and in giving it to the United States for the sake of the Union (the gift of  the South to the North) Virginia furnished the crowning proof of her devotion to that Union and became 

1. Thomas Jefferson. 2. James Momroe. 3. George Rogers Clark. 

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the "mother of States" as she was already the "mother of statesmen"; and the men who blazed the way for civilization in that vast region beyond the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains — the most famous American explorers and adventurers — were Southern men. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Virginians — Southerners — both, were the first white men who crossed the continent of North America, — "the first to break into the world-old solitudes of the heart of the continent." Writing of them, Noah Brooks, the historian, says: "Peaceful farms and noble cities, towns and villages, thrilling with the hum of modern industry and activity, are spread over the vast spaces through which these explorers threaded their toilsome trail, amid incredible privations and hardships, showing the way westward across the boundless continent which is ours. Let the names of these two men long be held in grateful honor by the American people!" 

For nearly two-thirds of the period of its existence has the Supreme Court of the United States — the sheet-anchor of the government — been presided over by Southern men, and their decisions constitute by far the wisest, purest and most luminous pages of the record of that august tribunal. 

The writer of our national anthem was a Southern man; 1 of the three contemporary American statesmen known as "the great trio," 2 two were Southern men, and it was one of these two whose statesmanship and 

1 Francis S. Key.  2 Clay, Calhoun, and Webster. 
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patriotism twice saved the Union from dismemberment. 

The author of the Emancipation Proclamation was of Southern birth and lineage, and his biographer, who was his intimate friend and law partner, records that Abraham Lincoln said that all his better qualities came from his Southern ancestry.1 

The first shot in the second war of the United States with England was fired by a Southern man, 2 the most distinguished soldiers of that war were Southern men, the most complete and overwhelming defeat that any English army has ever experienced was inflicted by Southern troops commanded by a Southern man; 3 the man who performed what Admiral Nelson called "the most daring act of the age," and who received the thanks of all Europe for overthrowing the Barbary powers and putting an end to their inhuman cruelties, was a Southern man; 4 the most distinguished soldiers of the war with Mexico were Southern men, and it was a Southerner who, amid unutterable cold and hunger and desolation, with his Fahrenheit thermometer at 49° below zero, planted the "Star-Spangled- Banner" nearer the North Pole than any other mortal has ever 

1. "He said, among other things, that she (his mother) was the illegitimate daughter of Lucy Hanks and a well-bred Virginia farmer or planter, and he argued that from this last source came his power of analysis, his logic, his mental activity, his ambition, and all the qualities that distinguished him from the other members and descendants of the Hanks family. His theory in discussing the matter of hereditary traits had been, that, for certain reasons, illegitimate children are sometimes sturdier and brighter than those born in lawful wedlock; and in his case he believed that his better nature and finer qualities came from this broad-minded, unknown Virginian." — Herndon's Life of Lincoln, vol. 1, p. 3.   
2. Capt. John Rodgers, of Maryland.  
3. Andrew Jackson.  
4. Stephen Decatur. 

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carried it, and wrested from England an honor she had held for three centuries — the honor of having 
reached the "furthest north." 1 

Seven times did the Abolition party during its existence make Presidential nominations; 2 five of these times (including the only times when it was successful) was its standard bearer a Southern man; of the two vice-presidents elected by it one was a Southern man 3 of its other vice-presidential candidates one was a Southerner 4 and the other — who was one of the founders and leaders of the "Free-soil" party and vice-president of the first National Convention of the Republican party — while not a native of the South, was the son of a Southern woman. 5 The organizer and the first president of the "Underground Railroad" were Southern men, 6 the publisher of the first abolition journal in America was a Southern man, who was the real pioneer of American abolition 7 (notwithstanding Henry Ward Beecher's quoted declaration that John Rankin — another Southerner — "was the father of abolitionism, the Martin Luther of the cause"); and for several years during the first quarter of the nineteenth century the only periodicals devoted exclusively to the cause of abolitionism were published in the South, 8 during all of which time neither the pa- 

1. Lieutenant James B. Lockwood. 
2. 1840, '44, '48, '52, '56, '60, '64. 
3. Andrew Johnson, a North Carolinian. 
4. Thomas Morris. 
5. George W. Julian. 
6. Vestal Coffin, Levi Coffin (of North Carolina). 
7. Charles Osborn, of North Carolina. 
8. In Tennessee. 

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pers nor their publishers and editors were interfered with in any manner. On the contrary, they met with more success than similar publications in the North had experienced, and their first encounter with mob violence was when they went North. The only anti-slavery societies that were really active at that period were the manumission societies in the South. It was the denunciatory violence and incendiary fanaticism of the disunion abolitionists of the North, who, later on, under the lead of Garrison, Phillips, Parker and others, made war on the Constitution of the United States, denounced it as ''a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,'' vowed they would not regard it, and repeatedly and persistently violated it, with the sanction and encouragement of their State governments, — this it was that balked the movement for abolition in the South, deluged the land with blood and billowed it with graves, and destroyed the Union created by the Constitution which they so denounced — the Constitution made by the Revolutionary fathers, with Washington at their head. 

The first public or circulating library in America was in the South, 1 a Southern State was the first to secure religious liberty by organic law, 2 the first Sunday-school established in America was in a Southern State, 3 the first native Methodist itinerant in America was a Southern man, 4 a Southern man was 

1. At Annapolis. 
2. Maryland. 
3. At Savannah, Georgia. 
4. William Watters, of Maryland and Virginia.

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the founder of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New England 1 the first American to establish schools exclusively for the education of young women was a Southern man, 2 the first female college in the world was and is in a Southern State, 3 the first post-graduate medical school in this country was established by a Southern physician and surgeon,4 the first college of dental surgery in the world was in a Southern city, 5 the first man in the United States who received the degree of doctor of medicine was a Southern man, 6 and so also was the first professor of pathological and surgical anatomy; 7 the first agricultural journal in this country was established by a Southern man, 8 the first successful commercial paper in the United States was a Southern publication, 9 and I quote the words of that gifted and famous English woman and authoress, Harriet Martineau, in saying that, for more than fifty years after the Revolution days, ''the best specimen of periodical literature that the country afforded was the Southern Review, published at Charleston" — Charleston of the Old South. 

The man who first gave a complete description of  the Gulf Stream — who first marked out specific routes to be followed in crossing the Atlantic — who first insti- 

1. Jesse Lee, of Virginia. He was "the Apostle of Methodism" in New England. 
2. John Lylej of Virginia. 
3. The Wesle.'an Female College, Macon, Georgia. 
4. The New 'ork Polyclinic and Hospital, by Dr. John A. Wyeth, of Alabama, former ^resident of the New York State Medical Association. 
5. Baltimore. 
6. Dr. John Acher, of Maryland. 
7. Dr. John Wigner, of South Carolina. 
8. The Americin Farmer, by John L. Skinner, of Maryland. 
9. The New Oraans Prices Current. 

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tuted the system of deep-sea sounding — who first suggested the establishment of telegraphic communication between the continents by cable on the bed of the ocean, and who indicated the line along which the existing cable was laid — whose Treatise on Navigation has been a text-book in the United States navy — who was declared by Humboldt to be the founder of a new and important science, and on whom France, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Sardinia, Holland, Bremen and the Papal States bestowed orders of knighthood and other honors — was a Southern man; 1 and a Southern man originated the plan for splicing the cable in mid-ocean. 2 

It was a Southern man who was declared by the French Academy of Sciences to have done more for the cause of agriculture than any other living man, 3 the inventor of the Gatling gun was a Southern man, 4 and so was the inventor of the machinery that first propelled a boat by steam; 5 it was the invention of a Southern man 6 that made the Parrott gun elective, the first steamship that crossed the Atlantic went from a Southern city, whose name it bore, and Those citizens had it built, 7 and its engine was constructed by a Southern man; 8 and when the great inter-continental railroad — the Three Americas Railway, which is to unite, by one continuous line. North, Central and 

1. Matthew Fontaine Maury. 
2. Dr. James C. Palmer, of Maryland. 
3. Cyrus H. McCormick. 
4. Richard J. Gatling, of North Carolina. 
5. James Rumsey, of Maryland. 
6. Dr. John Brahan Read, of Alabama. 
7. Savannah. 
8. Daniel Dod, of Virginia. 

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South America — has been built, history will record the name of a Southern man as its projector— as the one who will be known as the father of that far-reaching, colossal enterprise. 1 The first act by a corporate body in the world adopting the locomotive engine as a tractive power on a railway for general passenger and freight transport, was by the board of directors of the South Carolina Railroad, and the first locomotive engine built for railway service in the United States was built for that road. 

The inventor of the first comprehensive system of ciphers used by the Associated Press, 2 and of the first pyrotechnic system of signals in the United States, 3 and of the original fire extinguisher,4 and the author of international fog-signals 5 — each of these was a Southern man; and no less an authority than Rear Admiral George E. Belknap, of the United States navy, says that, for the ease and accuracy with which the depths of the sea are now measured, the world is indebted primarily to the invention of John M. Brooke; — that to-day the machines in use the world over for deep sea sounding, of whatever name or description, are but modifications or adaptations of that invention.  To this statement of Rear Admiral Belknap I add that John M. Brooke is the discoverer of the utility 
of the air-space in cannon, that he is the inventor of the Brooke gun, that he and John L. Porter devised  

1. H. R. Helper, of North Carolina. 
2. Alexander Jones, M. D., of North Carolina. 
3. Henry J. Rogers, of Maryland. 
4. William A. Graham, of Virginia. 
5. Samuel P. Griffin, of Georgia. 

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and constructed the first iron-clad warship in the world's history, that he received from King William (Emperor William I.) of Prussia the gold medal of science awarded by the Academy of Berlin, and that; he is a Southern man, and was an officer in the Confederate States navy, as was John L. Porter, who shares with him the honor due the genius that planned and constructed the ship that revolutionized the navies of the world. This is an appropriate place, too, for mention of the fact that the founder and organizer of the United States Naval Academy was another Southern man, who was also an officer in the Confederate States navy; 1 and of the further fact that the organizer and constructor of the United States Naval Observatory — which he made one of the best in the world — was a Southern man, — the same who was the first constructor of a working astronomical observatory and the first publisher of a volume of  astronomical observations in the United States. 2 

That which has been pronounced the most original discovery ever made in physical science by an American was made by a native of the South; 3 the man who first used sulphuric ether to produce anaesthesia for surgical operations, 4 the successful performer of the first operation for extirpation of the ovary on record — ''the father of ovariotomy," 5 the first who 

1. Franklin Buchanan, of Maryland. 
2. James Melville Gilliss. 
3. The discovery of oxygen in the sun by photography, by Henry Draper, native of Virginia. 
4. Dr. Crawford W. Long, of Georgia. 
5. Ephraim McDowell, of Virginia. 

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performed the hip-joint amputation (one of the very gravest of surgical operations) in the United States 1 the physician and surgeon to whom the world is indebted for one of the most notable modern advances in the art of surgery ("the bloodless method of Wyeth" as applied to the hip-joints and shoulder-joints), 2 the man distinguished as the greatest lithotomist of the nineteenth century, 3 and the world's greatest gynecologist 4 — were all Southern men. 

The most learned American mineralogist 5 the greatest American naturalist 6 the most famous American musician 7 the artist known as ''the American Titian'' 8 the greatest American architect 9 and the world's greatest chess player 10 were all Southern men, as are the greatest American tragedian 11 and the most noted American dramatist 12 and the first Greek scholar in America to-day. 13 

The first woman in the world who received a col- 

1. Dr. Walter Brashear, of Kentucky. 
2. Dr. John A. Wyeth, of Alabama, who was a soldier in the Confederate army. 
3. Benjamin W. Dudley, of Virginia. 

4. J. Marion Sims, of South Carolina. 
5. John Lawrence Smith, of South Carolina. He was employed by the Turkish government to explore its mineral resources, and it still derives part of its income from his discoveries. He received the order of Nichan Iftabar and that of the Medjidieh from that government, and the order of St. Stanislas from Russia, and the cross of the Legion of Honor from Napoleon IIL He was also inventor of the inverted microscope. 
6. Audubon, of Louisiana. 
7. Gottschalk, of Louisiana. 
8. Washington Allston, of South Carolina. 
9. Henry H. Richardson, of Louisiana. 
10. Paul Morphy, of Louisiana. 
11. Edwin Booth, of Maryland. 
12. Augustin Daly, of North Carolina. 
13. Basil L. Gildersleeve, of South Carolina (Greek professor in Johns Hopkins University). 

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lege diploma was a Southern woman 1 so was the first woman in the world to direct and conduct a great daily political newspaper, 2 and the only woman on record who was the wife of a governor, the sister of a governor, the niece of a governor, the mother of a governor and the aunt and foster-mother of a governor, was a Southern woman. 3 

How stands the Britannica's assertion in the light of these facts? 

1. Mrs. Catherine E. Benson (Miss Brewer), of Georgia.
2. Mrs. Eliza J. Nicholson, of the New Orleans Picayune.
3 Mrs. Richard Manning, of South Carolina.

(end of page 28)

Thaddeus K. Oglesby, Some Truths Of History: A Vindication Of the South Against the Encyclopedia Britannica and Other Maligners (Atlanta: The Byrd Printing Company, 1903), 15-28. 


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