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Some Truths of History (II) by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby

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


The facts I have already stated are enough and more than enough to vindicate the South from the aspersions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, but the occasion, and the fact that there are some who — unduly impressed by the high-sounding title and the imposing claims of that pretentious and ponderous collection of abtruse essays — are inclined to make a literary fetish of it, require that something further be here written in contrasting its statements with the truth of history. 

The Britannica, in its article on American Literature, naming the two Carolinas as types of the Southern States, asserts that mainly by their connection with the North have they been saved from sinking to the level of Mexico or the Antilles — from becoming, in short, a set of semi-barbarians. To this explicit assertion, so degrading to Southern people, I oppose an 

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explicit denial, and I hale the Britannica before the tribunal of History, whose record it has falsified. 

A Further Appeal To the Record

What says that record further? Was it in the South, or in the North — in the Carolinas, or in Massachusetts — that a law was made prescribing that a person, if once convicted of being a Quaker, should lose one ear, — if twice so convicted, should lose another ear, — and if convicted the third time of the diabolical crime of Quakerism, was to be bored through the tongue with a red-hot iron? Was it in the South, or in the North — in the Carolinas, or in Massachusetts — that a penalty was inflicted on any one who entertained a Quaker, and men and women were banished on pain of death and hung — for being Quakers? Was it in the South, or in the North — in the Carolinas, or in Massachusetts — that decrepit old men were hung and pressed to death, and pure, innocent women were torn from their children and jailed and hung — as witches? Was it in the South, or in the North — in the Carolinas, or in Massachusetts — that children were tied neck and heels together till the blood was ready to gush from them, to make them swear falsely against their own mother — accused of being a witch? Was it here or there that men were hung for denying the existence oi witchcraft? And were they of the North, or of the South — of Massachusetts, or the Carolinas — the preachers and judges who incited and applauded the jailing, and 

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banishing, and torturing and slaughtering of Quakers and "witches"; and the people who were wont to go from church — from the altar of God — to the public whipping-post to see women whipped on the bare back? And where was it that negro children were sold by the pound like so much beef or bacon (see Mrs. Earle's Customs and Fashions in Old New England); and what province was it that passed a statute offering £100 per scalp for the scalps of twelve-year-old Indian boys, and that, too, at a time when no Indian war was going on there? 1 To each and all of these questions, History, with its inexorable, unerring pen, 
answers — "Massachusetts!"

And where was it that, only a few years ago, the skin of persons who had died as inmates of an alms-house was tanned and made into articles of merchandise? Have we not the authority of one who is himself a distinguished citizen of that State for saying that this tanning of human hide for commercial pur- 

1. Perhaps it was from this precedent, set by pious New England fore-fathers, that General Jacob Smith, of the United States army in the Philippines (1902), got the inspiration for the order to the soldiers under his command to kill all Filipinos over ten years old; though Northern representatives in Congress, upholding Smith, said that his "kill and bum" Order had ample precedent in orders issued by Lincoln and Grant and examples set by Sherman and Sheridan during the war of the North on the South. (See speech of Galusha A. Grow, of Pennsylvania, in Congress, May 15, 1902.) It is therefore quite likely that Smith's order to kill and burn in the Philippines until they were made "a howling wilderness" needed no other inspiration than he found in those examples, and especially in a telegram from one to another of the above named generals which ran as follows: "Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl." This telegram was dated Oct. 9, 1864; was sent to General U. S. Grant, and was signed "W. T. Sherman." Anthony Trollope, the distinguished English author, says that in 1861 he heard Wendell Phillips make a speech in Boston in which "he preached the doctrine of rapine, bloodshed and social destruction" against the South. 

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poses was in Massachusetts? Did not no less a personage than the Governor of that State say so? 1 

Another instance of the superior brand of civilization furnished by Massachusetts is given by Madame de Riedesel, wife of a German general in Burgoyne's army, who says in her memoir that she was cruelly insulted by Boston women, and that the wife and young daughter of Captain Fenton, a royalist absentee, were stripped naked, tarred and feathered, and paraded through the city. 

Once upon a time fourteen negroes, who were suspected of incendiarism and intended insurrection, were thrown into jail, tried without counsel, were not permitted to testify in their own behalf, were convicted without evidence that warranted conviction, and burned at the stake. A white man, accused of inciting the negroes to incendiarism, was hung. It afterwards appeared that they were all innocent of the charges against them. All this was in a Northern State and city — the State and city of New York. (And these are the people who raise their voices in raucous roars and hypocritical howls to heaven when white men of the South lynch a negro for raping a white woman.) 

Once upon another time a man whose hands were dyed with the blood of men whom he had assassinated under cover of the darkness of night, was caught in the very act of inciting negroes to incendiarism and in- 

1. Several years after this was printed there was a revelation of barbarities practiced in public institutions in New England and elsewhere in the North, as shocking as the dungeon horrors of Europe brought to light by John Howard more than a hundred years ago. 

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surrection — caught by the very people whose homes he was inciting the negroes to burn and whose lives he was inciting them to take. He was tried in accordance with the laws of the land — having every right, including able counsel — to which they entitled him; was convicted and hung. This was in the Southern State of Virginia. The incendiary midnight assassin who was thus inciting negroes to murder and arson — to " kill and burn" — and who was so convicted and hung, was a Northern man, hailing from New England, and he has been canonized and classed with Jesus Christ in that super-civilized region. 

In view of this barbarous and bloody record should it be a matter of much surprise that the man whom the Chicago Times-Herald called ''the criminal of the century" was a product of New England? "Human history," said the Herald, ''may be ransacked in vain to find a parallel to this criminal. He is a prodigy of infamy without a parallel in all the world." (See Times-Herald editorial on the murderer Holmes, April 13, 1896.) This scion of New England entered upon his criminal career to get lucre, and in the space of a few years he had murdered twenty-seven people, male and female, old and young. Yes, this "Criminal of the Century" was a native — not of the South — but of that section which the Britannica says has saved the South, and especially the Carolinas, from sinking into barbarism. 

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Words From Washington. 

What was it that, most of all, filled the great heart of Washington with grief, and doubt, and despondency in that first winter of the Revolution, when he was straining every nerve to keep an army before Boston? Read the answer in his own almost despairing words. Writing from Cambridge to a trusted friend — after telling of the lack of powder and arms, and money — he says: "These are evils but small in comparison of those which disturb my present repose. Our enlistments are at a stand. The fears I ever entertained are realized; that is, the discontented officers have thrown such difficulties or stumbling-blocks in the way of recruiting that I no longer entertain a hope of completing the army by voluntary enlistments. The reflection upon my situation produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapt in sleep. " "To be plain," he continues, “these people are not to be depended on;" and he advises appealing to their cupidity by the offer of large bounties, for (he adds) "notwithstanding all the public virtue which is ascribed to these people, there is no nation under the sun that pays greater adoration to money than they do." 1 Who were "these people" — the people of whom Washington wrote these words? Whence came the troops of whom Alexander Gray don, a Revolutionary soldier of Pennsylvania, recorded in 

1. Washington to Joseph Reed. 

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his memoirs these words: "It appeared that the sordid spirit of gain was the vital principle of this part of the army ?" 1 Were the people of whom Washington wrote, and the troops to whom Gray don referred, from the North, or from the South — from New England or the Carolinas? Again, History, making response to this question, answers: "New England!" (Who can help thinking, right here, in conection with the words of Washington and Graydon, of that general of the Revolution whose "sordid spirit of gain" made him a traitor to his country? Benedict Arnold was not a Carolinian nor a Southern man.) 

In the government archives is a memorandum by Thomas Jefferson of a consultation with Mr. Livingston, in which are these words: "They are avaricious and venal, looking always for gain." The "they" referred to were the people of Connecticut. In 1821 Achille Murat — son of the famous Marshal Murat and nephew of Napoleon — came to the United States to live. A few years later, writing to Count Thibaudeau, he said: "They are eager to amass wealth, and will frankly confess, like Petit-Jean: 'Without money, honor's a disease.'" The "they" to whom Achille Murat referred were the people of New England. 

Help From the South

With enlistments at a stand, and without powder 

1. "I have been credibly informed that it was no unusual thing in the army before Boston for a colonel to make drummers and fifers of his sons, thereby not only being able to form a very snug, economical mess, but to aid also considerably the revenue of the family chest." Graydon's Memoirs, p. 148. 

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for the troops he had, and among a people "whose vital principle seemed to be the sordid spirit of gain," what wonder was it that the unselfish Southern patriot had such gloomy forebodings? Happily for him and for the country his sorest immediate need was about to be sup lied. A British ship loaded with powder was captured off Savannah about this time by a vessel commissioned for the purpose by the Provincial Congress of Georgia, and, badly as it was needed at the South, a large portion of it was immediately dispatched to the army at Cambridge — for the South had declared that ''the cause of Boston is the cause of all." This was the first capture ordered by any American Congress; the vessel that made it was the first vessel commissioned for warfare in the Revolution, and it was this powder, thus captured, that enabled Washington to drive the British from Boston. 

Talleyrand Relates An Incident, and Channing and Bryant Write Letters. 

Talleyrand relates that when he was in this country he met a citizen of Maine who had never seen Washington. Talleyrand asked him if he would not, when he visited Philadelphia, like to see that great man. The Maine citizen said he would be pleased to see Washington, but evinced a much greater desire "to see Mr. Bingham, who they say is so rich." In the eyes of the Maine man George Washington was "small potatoes" in comparison with "the rich Mr. Bingham." 

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Nearly a quarter of a century after Washington penned at Cambridge the letters quoted above, William Ellery Channing wrote from Richmond these words: "I blush for my own people when I compare the selfish prudence of a Yankee with the generous confidence of a Virginian. There is one single trait which attaches me to the people here more than all the virtues of New England, — they love money less than we do; they are more disinterested — their patriotism is not tied to their purse-strings." Still forty years later we find William Cullen Bryant, of Massachusetts, writing — *Hhe South certainly has the advantage over us in the point of manners." Yet a third of a century later a distinguished son of Pennsylvania, a philosophic student of history, with the intellect to see and the courage and honesty to declare the truth, bears this testimony: "Slavery not only consisted with, but it naturally produced and sustained a society, on the whole, less erring than existed in the North, and, probably, than in the emancipated South will ever exist without it. That political virtue, more important to a republic than private virtue, which has become less and less common in the North, did not decay in the South. The political South produced more truly independent spirits than the North." (Fears For Democracy, by Charles Ingersoll.) "I thought" — wrote William H, Seward of the Legislature of Virginia, at which he took a look on a trip in early life through that State — "I thought that the intelligence, capacity, manners and tone of 

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the debates, as well as the dress and carriage of the members generally, rather excelled our own" (the New York Legislature). Be it noted that it is the Old South to which Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Seward refer, and it was to the society of the Old South that Anthony Trollope referred when, after visiting the United States in 1861, he wrote: "Everybody acknowledged that society in Washington had been almost destroyed by the loss of the Southern half of the usual sojourners in that city." 

The Trail Of the Money Devil Over Them All. 

The Vice-President of the United States who accepted bribes and perjured himself to escape exposure — the Speaker of the House of Representatives (afterwards the candidate of the Republican party for the Presidency) who gave the influence of his high place in exchange for lucre 1 — the Cabinet Minister who was impeached for selling appointments to the highest bidder — and the Credit Mobilier Congressmen — were these of the North or the South? All, all Northern. 

The Britannica Says It Was. 

Was it their connection with the people whose manners Bryant characterized as being inferior — 

1. "He had converted the power of his great place into lucre, and was exposed. By mingled chicanery and audacity he obtained possession of his own criminating letters, flourished them in the face of the House, and, in the Cambyses vein, called on his people to rally and save the luster of his loyalty from soil at the hands of rebels; and they came. From all the North ready acclaims went up, and women shed tears of joy, such as in King Arthur's day rewarded some peerless deed of Galahad. In truth it was a manly thing to hide dishonorable plunder beneath the prostrate body of the South." — Destruction and Reconstruction (Taylor), p. 237. 

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whose "patriotism" (said Channing) "is tied to their purse strings" — whose "vital principle" (said Graydon) "appeared to be the sordid spirit of gain" — who (said Washington) "pay greater adoration to money than any nation under the sun, and are not to be depended on" — was it by their connection with these people and their Quaker-hanging, "witch" killing ancestry and bribe-taking posterity that Southern people have been saved from sinking into barbarism? The Britannica says it was. What says the truth of history? 

The Men He Did Depend On. 

"These people are not to be depended on," wrote Washington of the New England troops; but at a later period, when he was sending reinforcements to General Gates in response to an appeal from that officer, he wrote: "I have dispatched Col. Morgan with his corps of riflemen to your assistance. This corps I have great dependence on." Later, when he himself needed reinforcements and asked that Morgan and his men be sent back. Gates replied that he could not then afford "to part with the corps the army of General Burgoyne was most afraid of." History tells us that the men on whom Washington had such "great dependence," and of whom Burgoyne's army "was most afraid" were — not from New England, but — from Virginia, that land where, said Channing, ' ' their patriotism is not tied to their purse-strings. ' ' 

"These people of the Southern Colonies," said Ed- 

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mund Burke, the great British statesman, ''are much more strongly, and with an higher and more stubborn spirit, attached to liberty than those to the northward." "The gallantry of the Southern men has inspired the whole army," wrote Adjutant-General Reed (of New Jersey) after the Long Island campaign of 1776. 1

Three Historic Documents. 

In the archives of the Government at Washington are three historic documents worthy of consideration in this connection. The first one, in point of time, reads thus: 

"Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia. 
"Chambersburg, Pa., June 27, 1863. 
''General Order No. 73. 
"The Commanding General has observed with marked satisfaction the conduct of the troops on the march, and confidently anticipates results commensurate with the high spirit they have manifested. No troops could have displayed greater fortitude or better performed the arduous marches of the past ten days. Their conduct in other respects has, with few exceptions, been in keeping with their character as 

1. General Knox (of Massachusetts) was Secretary of War during the Revolution. According to his report the North sent to the army 100 men for every 227 of military age, as shown by the census of 1790, and the South 100 for every 209. In 1848 one out of every sixty-two of the men of military age in' 1790 in the North was a Revolutionary pensioner, and one out of every 110 in the South. Of these pensioners New England had 3,146, more than were in all the South, and New York two-thirds as many, though she contributed not one-seventh as many men to the war. 

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soldiers, and entitles them to approbation and praise. There have, however, been instances of forgetfulness on the part of some that they have in keeping the yet unsullied reputation of the army, and that the duties exacted of us by civilization and Christianity are not less obligatory in the country of our enemy than in our own. The Commanding General considers that no greater disgrace could befall the army, and through it our whole people, than the perpetration of the barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenceless, and the wanton destruction of private property that have marked the course of the enemy in our own country. Such proceedings not only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected with them, but are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army, and destructive of the ends of our present movements. It must be remembered that we make war only on armed men, and that we can not take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemy, and offending against Him to whom vengeance belongeth. 

"The Commanding General therefore earnestly exhorts the troops to abstain, with most scrupulous care, from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property, and he enjoins upon all officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject. 

[Signed.] ''R. E. Lee, General." 

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The second one of the documents referred to is a letter dated — ''Headquarters of the Army, Washington, December 18, 1864," addressed to "Major-General W. T. Sherman, "Savannah," and concluding thus: "Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be sown upon its site, it may prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and secession. "Yours truly, [Signed.] "H. W. Halleck, Chief of Staff." 

The third document is a letter in which are these words: "I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think 'salt' will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally bring them into Charleston first; and, if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her. We must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war as well as their organized armies. "This letter is dated — "Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, in the Field, Savannah, December 24, 1864;" is adressed to "Major-General H. W. Halleck, Chief-of-Staff, Washington, D. C," and is signed — "W. T. Sherman, Major-General. " 

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The burning dwelling-houses along the line of his march, and the wail of women and children left starving and unsheltered in the depth of winter attested how well "the Fifteenth Corps" maintained the reputation to which their commander so proudly pointed. 1 

Which Was the Barbarian? 

Which was the barbarian — the Southerner, who wrote the first of these documents, or the Northern man who wrote the last? The Southerner, from a long line of Southern ancestry; or the Northern man, with generations of Northern ancestors behind him? Robert E. Lee, or William Tecumseh Sherman? 2

1. See Addendum A.
2. "Our Southern homes have been pillaged, sacked and burned; our mothers, wives and little ones driven forth amid the brutal insults of your soldiers. Is it any wonder that we fight with desperation? A natural revenge would prompt us to retaliate in kind, but we scorn to war on women and children. We are fighting for the God-given rights of liberty and independence as handed down to us in the Constitution by our fathers. So fear not: if a torch is applied to a single dwelling, or an insult offered to a female of your town by a soldier of this command, point me out the man and you shall have his life."—General John B. Gordon, of the Confederate States army, to the women of York, Pa. "Towards the enemy's vessels and their crews you are to proceed, in exercising the rights of war, with all the justice and humanity which characterize this government and its citizens."—Instructions of President Davis to the commanders of Confederate privateers. (The crew of one of these privateers being captured, the United States government put them in irons, and when President Davis himself was captured the present commanding general of the United States army—a Massachusetts man—put him in irons.)

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Thaddeus K. Oglesby, Some Truths Of History: A Vindication Of the South Against the Encyclopedia Britannica and Other Maligners (Atlanta: Ths Byrd Printing Company, 1903), 28-42. 


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