The American War of Unification, 1961-1865

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Title: The American War of Unification, 1961-1865
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Decker, Wesley M.
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Nationalism
Political Economy
American Civil War
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theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
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Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This thesis has been a long time in the making, and reflects, to a certain extent, my divided focus as a history student at New College. It draws heavily on research from both U.S. and European history � two disciplines that are not often made to work together. I have attempted in the following pages to compare the experience of the American Civil War � a period of profound political transformation � to Europe's experience with national unification movements. My analysis combines a close reading of primary documents with a review of the relevant secondary source material. In the category of primary sources, the Congres-sional Globe (the definitive congressional record for most of the period under study) has been particularly useful. As this thesis is, first and foremost, a political history, I have also made the most of political party platforms and other campaign materials, public speeches, and so on. Appended are a number of cartoons and illustrations from the immediate buildup to the Civil War. Secondary source material serves to round out the argument and to aid the reader in utilizing the evidence provided. It has also been mined for primary sources, many of which have been presented second-hand � particularly where foreign sources are concerned. While the United States remains front and center in my analysis, my findings should be of interest to historians in both European and American history. The American Civil War was a world-historical event, and I have attempted wherever possible to shed light on the patterns it shares in common with similar events across Europe.
Statement of Responsibility: by Wesley M. Decker
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Goff, Brendan

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
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Classification: local - S.T. 2012 D29
System ID: NCFE004568:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: The American War of Unification, 1961-1865
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Decker, Wesley M.
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Nationalism
Political Economy
American Civil War
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This thesis has been a long time in the making, and reflects, to a certain extent, my divided focus as a history student at New College. It draws heavily on research from both U.S. and European history � two disciplines that are not often made to work together. I have attempted in the following pages to compare the experience of the American Civil War � a period of profound political transformation � to Europe's experience with national unification movements. My analysis combines a close reading of primary documents with a review of the relevant secondary source material. In the category of primary sources, the Congres-sional Globe (the definitive congressional record for most of the period under study) has been particularly useful. As this thesis is, first and foremost, a political history, I have also made the most of political party platforms and other campaign materials, public speeches, and so on. Appended are a number of cartoons and illustrations from the immediate buildup to the Civil War. Secondary source material serves to round out the argument and to aid the reader in utilizing the evidence provided. It has also been mined for primary sources, many of which have been presented second-hand � particularly where foreign sources are concerned. While the United States remains front and center in my analysis, my findings should be of interest to historians in both European and American history. The American Civil War was a world-historical event, and I have attempted wherever possible to shed light on the patterns it shares in common with similar events across Europe.
Statement of Responsibility: by Wesley M. Decker
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Goff, Brendan

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 D29
System ID: NCFE004568:00001

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THE AMERICAN WAR OF UNIFICATION, 1861 1865 BY WESLEY M. DECKER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Brendan Goff Sarasota, Florida April, 2012


CONTENTS Abstract i ii Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Economic Nationalism, State Building, and the Meaning of the Union 8 Chapter 2: Romantic Nationalism and the Crisis of the Union 3 3 Chapter 3: Foreign Perspectives on American Nationalisms 54 C o n c l u s i o n 7 1 Appendix 7 3 Bibliography 7 9


T HE AMERICAN WAR OF UNIFICATION, 1861 1865 Wesley M. Decker New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis ha s been a l ong time in the making, and reflects, to a certain extent, my divided focus as a history student at N ew College. It draws heavily on research from both U.S. and European history two disciplines that are not often made to work together. I have attempted in the following pages to compare the experience of the Am erican Civil War a period of profound political transformation to Europe s experience with national unification movements. My analysis combines a close reading of primary documents with a review of the relevant secondary source material. In the category of primary sources, the Congres sional Globe (the definitive congressional record for most of the period under study) has been particularly useful. As this thesis is first and foremost a political history, I have also made the most of political party platforms and other campaign materials, public speeches, and so on. A ppended are a number of cartoons and illustrations from the im mediate buildup to the Civil War Secondary source material serves to round out the argument and to aid the reader in utiliz ing the evidence provided. It ha s also been mined for primary sources, many of which have been presented second hand particularly where foreign sources are concerned.


While the United States remains front and center in my analysis my findings should be of interest to h i s t o r i a n s i n b o t h E u r o p e a n a n d A m e r i c a n h i s t o r y T h e A m e r i c a n C i v i l W a r w a s a w o r l d h i s t o r i c a l e v e n t a n d I h a v e a t t e m p t e d w h e r e v e r p o s s i b l e t o s h e d l i g h t o n t h e p a t t e r n s i t s h a r e s i n c o m m o n w i t h s i m i l a r e v e n t s a c r o s s E u r o p e Dr. Brendan Goff Division of Social Sciences


INTRODUCTION It is safe to say that more ink has been expended on the American Civil War than any other topic in U.S. History more even than on the American Revolution. The rich ness of the primary literature and the romance of it all have an irresistib le appeal to amateur as well as professional historian s. It is also true that the Civil War was the most turbulent and history changing event in U.S. history to include the Revolution and i t is likely for this reason that the amount of scholarship is so vast. The number of questions that remain unanswered is beyond estimation. This thesis will attempt to pose new questions by viewing the Civil War from new angles and situat ing it in new contexts. It is the object of this thesis to study the American Civil War as a war of national unification d uring which the central government of the United States was "captured" by a single coherent ide ology formed from multiple nationalisms As in German or Italian unification, that ideology took generatio ns to for m fully, but the process of implementing it was sped along by war The political scientist Richard Bensel has argued that conventional nation states form and "modernize" in three distinct stages: First, the total rationalization of central authority by br eaking down or co opting decentralized institutions; Second, the development of specialized institutions to perform a new and expansive set of political functions; and Third, the broadening of political participation into some form of mass


politics. Bense l argues that the United States followed this path to political modernization, but in exactly the opposite order. 1 The Democratic and Whig parties were fully formed as nation wide coalitions by the year 1836, and the process of creating a mass electorate with universal suffrage was complete even sooner, around 1828. The period between 1828 and 1876 was the height of mass politics in the United States. Voter participation was extremely high in some places as high as 85 percent. Political parties enjoy ed enthusiastic support from loyal voters with well defined political affiliations. "Independent voters," a majority in the electorate today, were r are in the nineteenth century. Mass politics drove both political parties, as well as the short lived mino r parties, to adopt certain nationalisms as part of their core agenda s at least some of the time Step two of modernization process was completed during the Civil War itself, when the Republican controlled legislature made the ir own pet nationalis m, the American System the law of the land. Appropriations were made for a transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act was passed, and the Morill Tariff, the rers from foreign competition. Thirdly and f inally, the federal government broke down obstacles to central authority by prosecuting a successful war of re unification against a Southern separatist movement. By the end of the Civil War, the union, which had formerly limited itself to co ordinating the foreign affairs and certain aspects of political economy, had come to resemble more closely a unitary state. T h e s t a t e b u i l d i n g a s p e c t o f n a t i o n a l u n i f i c a t i o n 1 Richard Franklin Bensel, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859 1877 ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 2 3.


i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s i s t h e f o c u s o f t h e f i r s t c h a p t e r o f t h i s t h e s i s w i t h a s p e c i a l e m p h a s i s o n p o l i t i c a l e c o n o m y a n d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l t h e o r y John Gerring's excellent treatment of the second and third party systems simplifies the Democrats' politi cal battles with the Whigs and Republicans as a struggle between "Old Republicans" (the Democrats) and what he calls "National Republicans" (the Whigs and Republicans). "Old Republican" was the preferred label of many Democrats from both sections, and the love of Jeffersonian limited government it implied continued to be an important part of the party brand at least until William Jennings Bryan's presidential run in 1896. 2 National Republicans also embraced the Jeffersonian legacy, particul arly after 1854; but that does not mean the gulf between the parties was minor. 3 For their part, National Republicans were comfortable with using the power of an enlarged federal government to accelerate economic development and political unification. By the late 1850s, a complicated ideology had grown up around th is need for progress and unity. Hopefully the reader will forgive my more cursory treatment of the Southern or Democratic ideologies which this N a t i o n a l R e p u b l i c a n unification movement wholly or partly displaced. During the antebellum period and even in the virtual one part y state which Bensel describes, National Republicans encountered fierce opposition from a Jacksonian political coalition that had plenty of philosophical and intellectual vigor in its own right; however, while I have stopped short of the unfortunate appr aisal, made by too 2 John Gerring, Party Ideologies in America, 1828 1996 ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998) 1 6 2 6 5 3 It was as least as wide as the gulf between the two major parties today, both of whom embrace the fundamentals of American democracy and market capitalism while remaining poli tically distinct.


many historians, that Democrats were simply agrarian anti capitalists and economic illiterates who tragically resisted modernity, I have proceeded from the assumption that, more than their Whig and Republican opponents, they were a party of reaction before action Old Republicans who started the Democratic Party in 1828 studied political economy in much the same way Adam Smith had a s part of a bigger picture of moral philosophy. The key to "Smithian" economics was to apply unchanging natural laws to economic activity, just as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson had applied them to political activity. While the Jacksonians' ideas about political economy were by no means under developed, they were certainly limited by what their adherents b elieved were laws of nature preceding human agency. 4 With such an inherently skeptical view of government as an institution capable of positive reforms, and such an outward looking approach to international trade and political economy, the Democrats were naturally less given to nationalism than their political opponents, and so I have given them less emphasis. T h e s e c o n d c h a p t e r o f t h e t h e s i s f o c u s e s o n m o r e p e r s o n a l n a t i o n a l i s m s Benedict Anderson has defined a "nation" as "an imagined political community and imagined as 4 The Democrats' Enlightenment pedigree is not lost on classical liberals today, who seldom shy away from claiming them as fellow believers; cf. Murray N. Rothbard, A History of Money and Banking in the Un ited States: The Colonial Era to World War II (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2005), 91: "The Jacksonians were libertarians, plain and simple. Their program and ideology were libertarian." Inversely, opponents of the neoliberal "Washington Consensus have sometimes invoked the United States' and Germany's successful industrialization, attributed to nineteenth century protectionism, to challenge free trade today; cf. Ha Joon Chang, Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspectiv e London: Anthem Press, 2007), 25: "a more careful and unbiased reading of the history reveals that the importance of infant industry protection in US development [sic] cannot be overemphasized."


both inherently limited and sovereign ." 5 The community is "imagined" in that it is impossible for every individual member to know every other member. Rather, the nation's sense of community is derived from a shared (some would say "collective") identity, probably transmitted across long dis tances through mass media. 6 Such was certainly the case in the United States, where a rich print culture of newspapers like the New York Tribune and periodicals like Harper's Weekly found their way to readers in every corner of the Republic. Political ca mpaigns also had a way of building up different nationalisms, both the traditional such as the mercantilist political economy of the Whig Party and the romantic such as Anglo Saxon racialism. If a nation is an imagined community, it is also a limited community. 7 Any nation will have boundaries and will share borders with other, distinct nations, or at the very least distinct communities. A nation whose claimed territory contains members of other nations people who may or may not be capable of adop ting a new nationality will tend to be seen as malformed and imperfect. The limits of a nation can be quite elastic because of the possibility of territorial expansion and of "naturalization" the absorption of new members into the community. 8 Finally, a nation is necessarily sovereign To a nationalist, trans national or supra national institutions will usually be suspect. Sovereignty is most often secured in the form of a nation state whose territorial limits approximate the geographical extent of t he national group that controls it. Keeping Anderson's observations in mind, the U nited 5 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1991), 6. 6 Ibid., 81 2. 7 Ibid., 7. 8 I b i d 145.


States certainly met the acid test This is not a paper about the making of a nation, but of the process by which that nation became politically unified. W h i l e t h e t h r e e c h a p t e r s t r u c t u r e I h a v e c h o s e n h a s s u c c e e d e d i n m a k i n g t h e f i n d i n g s o f t h e p a p e r m o r e a c c e s s i b l e t h e t h i r d c h a p t e r i s a b i t o f a n o u t l i e r I t i s l e s s a b o u t t h e f r i c t i o n s b e t w e e n c o m p e t i n g A m e r i c a n p o l i t i c a l c o a l i t i o n s a n d m o r e a b o u t c o m p e t i n g c o n c e p t i o n s o f n a t i o n h o o d i n t h e w o r l d b e y o n d i n c l u s i v e o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s T h i s i s n o t t o s a y t h a t f o r e i g n n a t i o n a l i s m s d i d n o t b e c o m e a d o p t e d a l o n g p a r t y l i n e s Democ ratic editorialists who believed in laissez faire economics and a commitment by the state to equal rights g e n e r a l l y showed a strong familiarity with contemporary liberal thought coming out of Britain and France; Whigs, with nationalist polemics from Germany and Russ ia that vindicated their more statist and programmatic methods of government. I t w i l l a l s o b e c o m e c l e a r t h r o u g h a r e a d i n g o f t h e f i r s t a n d s e c o n d c h a p t e r s t h a t n o n A m e r i c a n n a t i o n a l i s m s h a v e n o t e n t i r e l y b e e n l e f t t o t h e e n d I t i s t h e o b j e c t o f t h e t h i r d c h a p t e r t o s h o w c a s e t h e e x t e n t t o w h i c h t h e A m e r i c a n C i v i l W a r i n f l u e n c e d n a t i o n a l u n i f i c a t i o n m o v e m e n t s e l s e w h e r e a n d v i c e v e r s a I n s u m m a r y t h e n t he first chapter focuses on the political economy of unification; that is, the move to combine the states into a single economic unit. The m the development of a national consciousness based on existing institutions patriotism, a shared political culture, ethnic identities, and certain religious movements. Finally, the


third chapter is my rather h u m b l e attempt to compare the American War of Unification to nationalist movements going on in Europe during the same period.


1 ECONOMIC NATIONALISM, STATE BUILDING, AND THE MEANING OF THE UNION The Stage is Set On March president delivered his inaugural addre ss beneath the unfinished dome of the Capitol Building. On that occasion, Abraham Lincoln had an incredible task before him: to address a growing Southern secessionist movement. The speech retains a conciliatory tone throughout, even as it isolates and u ndermines a growing Southern separatist movement with the usual Republican appeals to tradition and national greatness. Like most in that party, Lincoln was an ardent nationalist. More likely than not, he already suspected that he would preside over a wa r unification of the German or Italian states, the United States were to have a violent and turbulent consolidation of their own; the groundwork having been laid by previous generations of Americans. in a way that must have been jarring to listeners who had come expecting a complete 9 The Republican platform he had run on, in other words, was the 9 Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1859 1865 ed. Don E. Fehrenbacher (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1989), 215.


least of his worries. Whatever Lincoln said a bout implementing the platform, however, both he and his listeners understood that reconciling the Northern and Southern states was imperative if that agenda was to be viable. At the Republican National Convention of 1860, Lincoln had been chosen on the th New York and Governor Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, were, on paper, much better widening gap i n the Republican agenda, inflamed by the secession crisis. Seward was a so called Moderate Republican, a member of that wing of the Republican Party which had carried over from the defunct Whig Party. In the Senate, Seward had been one of the most eloque nt spokesmen for economic dirigisme and national greatness as well as a slavery Democ rats and Free Soilers who had hitched themselves to the Republican Party after Martin V party run in 1848. Unlike Seward or Lincoln develo pment; and unlike Seward or Lincoln he was a fanatical antislavery activist who believed that the continued existence of that institution in the United States was more than an incidental obstacle to economic development. The contest between Chase and Sew ard, then, was just one engagement in an ideological battle over the future of the party. From the beginning, however, the Republicans had been a fusionist party. They


had lost the election of 1856 in large part by failing to rally the Moderates. If the party was to prevail in 1860, they would have to get both factions on board. 10 This is where Abraham Lincoln came in. Like Seward, Lincoln had been a Whig before he joined the Republican Party. 11 In fact, he had stayed away from the new party in 1856 beca use he feared the Radical label. 12 Nevertheless, Lincoln had run under the Republican banner as a candidate for the Senate in 1858 and had taken part in a series of debates with his Democratic opponent Stephen Douglas. The debates covered most every issue him stand out during that election year. His commitment to the old Whig economic agenda made him more palatable than Chase to the moderates ; his outspoken contempt for slaver y Soilers; and his repudiation of nativism meant that he would be warmly received by the critical immigrant voters of Pennsylvania and Ohio Lincoln was the perfect compr omise candidate, one who could hold the Republican coalition together in the coming election by represent ing both the Hamiltonian and the Jeffersonian roots of the party. And in 1860, he was a fresh faced outsider who had only lately become famous. 10 City cartoonist Louis Maurer, as seen in an 1860 print cartoon (Figure 1). 11 Chang, Kicking Away the Ladder 27 been a leading member of the hard line protectionist Whig party and an enthusiastic follower of t 12 Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative (New York: Random House, 1986), vol. I, 29.


Whig Nationalisms Lincoln's exertions during the secession crisis and the Civil War were not ad hoc ; in fact, many of the Lincoln administration's policies were in line with concepts formulated before Lincoln had even been born. The Republican Party that had e lected Lincoln particularly the Moderate wing was the latest in a lineage of nationalist parties and factions of parties that had been major players in U.S. national politics from the very beginnings of the republic. 13 The Republican platform that Linc oln had run on contained ideas inherited from the Federalist, National Republican and Whig agendas. Common to all of these was a bias toward strong central government; an activist role for the state in the national economy; and a liberal interpretation of the Constitution with an expansive view of federal prerogatives. In light of this nationalist and, to an extent, statist pedigree, it should come as no surprise that the Republican controlled federal government reacted to southern secession as it did. L ike a majority of Republicans in 1861, Lincoln had formerly been a member of the defunct Whig Party, which advocated "the preservation of a traditional social order within a rapidly evolving economic order." 14 Drawing on the legacy of Alexander Hamilton and his protectionist disciples in the previous century, the Whigs laid out a model of economic development designed to take America headlong into the Industrial R evolution, led by a partnership between Northern capitalists and an activist federal government. The Whig Party's historical economic agenda, and by extension the R epublicans', is referred to as t 13 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America highlights the continuities b etween the Federalist, National Republican, Whig and Republican Parties by including them all under the 14 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 11 1 2.


international perspective have described the broad policies as consisting of "neo mercant ilism." Like the classic eighteenth century British mercantilist system which had influenced Hamilton and the Federalists, the American System emphasized a favorable balance of trade as a way of maintaining one's status in the international arena. 15 As in the Realist school of political science today, it was understood that power and autonomy were derived from material wealth, and that the global economy was a zero sum affair in which one country's gains were another country's losses. 16 Calvin Colton, a prom inent intellectual in the party and the (initially) anonymous author of an 1844 manifesto titled The Junius Tracts was perhaps the best spokesman for the Whigs' model of political economy. Published in Horace Greeley's New York Tribune one of the most w idely read Northern newspapers, the Junius Tracts did more than any other work, except perhaps national party platforms, to bring the underlying ideas of the American System to popular attention. If we had space to explain and exemplify, we should start w ith the proposition, that a producer of anything whatever, who depends on the sale of his products, will fail if he buys and continues to buy more than he sells, and that he can only prosper, so far as trade is concerned by selling more than he buys. But it is enough for our purpose to say, what every body knows, that with nations as well as with individuals, there is such a thing as buying too much This we shall endeavor to show, has been the 15 Both the Junius Tracts National System of Po litical Economy preach the dangers of long term trade deficits, which lead to price destabilization over time as hard currency leaves the country instead of goods; cf. Friedrich List, National System of Political Economy trans. G.A. Matille (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856) 853 manufactured goods exceeds frequently to an enormous extent the value of the agricultural products which are exported, and that thereby at times suddenly an 16 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 65.


great fault and great misfortune of this country, in its for eign trade 17 [Emphasis original.] The Whigs' view of international trade was colored by the same statist streak they showed in domestic affairs. The American System was not a school of economics but of political economy 18 Unlike in "Smithian economics," where trade was held to be a simple transaction that concerned only individual parties, the American school viewed commerce as a public trust in which the whole nation's interests were at stake. The meaning of this phrase [ Free Trade ] in most men's min ds, would probably be expressed thus: let every man be free to trade as he can And this is precisely the law of the land, for the regulation of internal commerce. At least, we do not know anything to the contrary. But in external commerce, or trade betwee n nations, those who engage in it are to some extent public agents, and hold in their hands political powers of vital importance to the nation they represent. They carry the national flag and national credentials. Hence the propriety and importance of the following clause in our Constitution: "Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations." This, probably, will be deemed sufficient to show, that trade between nations can not be free, as the trader is an agent of the public, and bears a public commission. In other words, he is as much bound by his instructions as any other public agent, and it is equally important that he should be instructed. 19 In summary, then, the Whigs believed t hat t he U.S. Constitution and government were set up t o promote free trade within the United States and regulated trade without a national sphere of commerce that anticipated the German Zollverein by more than half a century. The Whigs' liberal interpretation of the Constitution permitted the federal gover nment a broad role in regulati ng and steering the national economy. Protective 17 Calvin Colton, The Junius Tracts (New York: Greeley & M cElrath, 1844) 34 18 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 66. 19 Colton, 34


tariffs were a staple of Whig party platforms and were intended to shield America's infant industries from more developed foreign competitors like Great Britain. The platform of 1844 called for "a tariff for revenue to defray the necessary expenses of the government, and discriminating with special reference to the protection of domestic labor of the country." 20 The emphasis on "labor" was extremely important in Whig rhetoric an d formed part of the core of the party's philosophy, which would be passed on to the Republican Party in the 1850s. 21 Much broader than the twentieth century concept of labor, the nineteenth century category included virtually all producers, as distinguish ed from traders and professionals. The Whig leader and three time presidential candidate Daniel Webster asked an audience in 1850: "Why, who are the laboring people of the North? They are the whole North. They are the people who till their own farms wit h their own hands; freeholders, educated men, independent men." Tellingly, commercial enterprises like shipping, trade and international commerce were usually excluded from the Whig definition of labor; and urban port cities like New York, Philadelphia, a nd those in the South tended to be squarely in the Democratic Party's corner. 20 "Whig Platform of 1844," in National Party Platforms, Volume I 1840 1956 ed. Donald Bruce Johnson ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press), 9. 21 In the presid ential election of 1840, the Whigs pursued a remarkably successful political branding campaign with their candidate, William Henry Harrison. An official Whig Party engraving depicts Harrison in front of the stereotypical log cabin of a freeholder (Figure 2). The rustic imagery of the Harrison campaign served a dual purpose of recalling his military service and of strengthening his appeal to labor particularly well to do farmers in the west.


The Blueprint for a Nation The importance of laborism to the Whig philosophy is difficult to overstate. The Junius Tracts made the ideal of Northern labor (contr asted with stereotypes of European labor) a main fixture of the party's ideology and a selling point for the whole Whig agenda. In our case, the value of capital and the price of labor are not forced and fictitious, but they are the prerogative of freedo m. In the case of Europe, the laborers are not a party in arranging the price of their task. They have no choice. It is forced....The question then the great, practical, momentous question is, Shall European capital and labor, in a field of open and fre e trade, be permitted to bring American capital and labor, that is, American society, down to the same level? Or shall American society, by the American government, protect American capital and labor, and maintain the position to which the cost of American freedom has elevated them? 22 Put another way, free trade without protection for domestic manufactures not only undercut American industrialization, but ushered in an international race to the bottom in labor standards. But the position of labor in this country is, in a variety of important particulars, a new one in human society. It is free with the exception of demand from Government a security for the interests and rights of labor, and one of those rig hts is, that free American labor shall not be put on the same level with the forced labor of other countries, or any country. 23 [Emphasis original.] 22 Colton, The Junius Tracts 46 47. 23 Ibid, 105.


The Northern Critique of the South Next to suppressing the rebellion, the most important object of public p olicy in the Union during the war w ould be to ensure that the federal government was made to work for free labor. Generally speaking, Northerners, and particularly Republicans, had a very low opinion of the South. To them it appeared rustic and backward, with none of the advantages of economic development, social mobility and civic virtue that they cherished in the free labor sphere. By the same model they used to pronounce their own society a good one, Northerners condemned the South as woefully inadequ ate. Southern society was characterized as stratified and aristocratic, with a handful of large, slaveholding planters lording over a permanent underclass of poor whites. 24 Timothy Jenkins, a Democrat from upstate New York who would become a Republican in 1856, had this to say about slavery in the South: What is its effect upon the white race? Under every form of government having the benefits of civilization there is a middle class, neither rich nor poor, in which is concentrated the chief enterprise of slave States there is in substance no middle class. Great wealth or hopeless poverty is the settled condition. The connecting link is left out. The white laborer is necessarily the companion of the slave; and the master is as far rem oved from the one as the other. This arrangement of society is an artificial one. It is unsound in principle, and unsafe in practice. It consists of a conglomeration of oligarchies; the more numerous the masters, the more arbitrary the rule. The one is raised as far above a fit condition for improvement as the other is sunk below it. It is anti republican in all its tendencies....The Constitution guarantees to each State a republican form of government; and the only way to insure that result is, to set up institutions in our territories which shall prove the elements of power, not the seed of weakness and decay. 25 24 Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 47 8. 25 Congressional Globe 30 Congress, 2 Session, 103.


Republicans, then, applied the same social critique to the South as the Whigs had to Old Europe. William Seward saw the elite of southern sl aveholders as a reactionary aristocracy that monopolized state power in the places it dominated which made it the greatest single obstacle to the federal government's capture by the modernizing nationalist movement. 26 "In states where the slave system pre vails, the masters, directly or indirectly, secure all political power, and c onstitute a ruling aristocracy. In states where the free labor system prevails, universal suffrage necessarily obtains, and the state inevitably becomes, sooner or later, a repub lic or democracy." 27 slavery brought down on the South. In Republican circles, it was seen as both a sign and a cause of arrested development in the region that reflected poo rly on the caliber of its people. Charles Henry Van Wyck, a freshman Republican congressman from New York, reacted to inferior economic conditions in the South with the utmost condescension. "You cannot expect the advantages of machinery," he said, "unti l some Yankees go down and explain the mode and manner of its use." 28 The stereotype of Southerners as rustic and backward was at once denigrating and pitying, and constituted a part of the national ethos. Just as foreign labor was thought to be a danger to free labor in the United States, slave labor in the South was blamed for the relatively poor lot of southern whites. Whereas the N orthern working man was a kind of micro entrepreneur wh o was likely to profit from 26 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 65. 27 William H. Sewar d, "The Irrepressible Conflict," in Recent Speeches and Writings of William H. Seward, 1854 1861 ed. George E. Baker (New York: Redfield, 1861), 291. 28 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 1 Session, 1031.


productive employment, the Southern slave and the European peasant were commodified and deprived of their agency in the marketplace, as well as the fruits of their labor. "This conversion of Labor into Capital," wrote one New Y ork economist, cannot fail to diminish the productiveness of that agent. The slave has no personal interest in the results of his own labor. He knows that however much of revenue he may produce, his own share will be strictly limited to the necessaries of life; he knows that diligence will not better his pecuniary condition, nor idleness render it worse. In a word, the hope of gain and fear of want are both extinguished by the deprivation of freedom. The absence of these two most powerful incentives t o diligence and carefulness, must necessarily render slave labor extremely inefficient....I think we may safely conclude that the aggregate production of wealth, under it, is less than half the amount that an equal number of freemen will produce. 29 Belief in the superiority of free labor, both as an individual lifestyle and as a nation wide system of political economy, was the "least common denominator" of the Republican coalition, so naturally it framed the whole slavery question. 30 Whereas the New England Abolitionists and other extreme anti slavery activists in the previous generation had tended to attack slavery on highly personal grounds by emphasizing its moral and spiritual effect on the slave owner, political anti slavery emphasized the institution's economic and social impact on a macro level. Slavery was a relic of the Old World; an alien system best left behind in the interests the United States' uniquely prosperous laboring classes. The moral issue was secondary, if it was brought up at all. Rep ublicans adopted this new approach and used it deliberately to reach out to white 29 George Opdyke, Treatise on Political Economy (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1851), 330 3 2. 30 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 59.


Southern labor, if in a condescending manner. Republicans also hoped that the free labor argument against slavery would enable them to poach parts of the Democrats' immigran t base particularly Germans in the Midwest 31 By the 1860s, Republicans had whol ly pressible slavery If free labor and industrialization were to become the national standard, it would have to be a process guided by a powerful central government. For the Republicans and their Whig predecessors, economic development was a national undertaking; one that would require a strong central government to co ordinate. The truism that challenges to national unity were foolish and counterproductive as well as lawless were very familiar to the former Whigs who supported Lincoln and Seward in 1860 and had been a fixture of nationalist party platforms from at leas t the 1820s. For those in the Hamiltonian tradition, the alternative to Union was economic decline, anarchy, and the loss of national standing in the world. A N ational Industrial Policy The big picture in the American System was an import substitution st rategy of development; in other words, a comprehensive industrial policy aimed at replacing cheap foreign imports with products from home industry. High tariffs and/or import quotas protected the United States' manufacturing sector from foreign particul arly British competition, while infrastructure development and export subsidies ensured a high volume of trade both inside and out of the country. Providing capital for home industries 31 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 59.


became a state endeavor as well, with joint stock companies and (occ asionally) a national bank providing them with cheap credit and pursuing tight monetary policies in order to maintain a strong, export friendly currency. "Smithian economics" ( powerfully represented in the United States by the gen erally laissez faire econ omics promoted by Democrats) were seen as dangerous and "visionary theories" without much weight in American political economy, and proponents of the American System took it for granted that "successful intervention into the marketplace" was a sign of good government. 32 Again, the well being of free labor was a paramount concern in R epublican electoral rhetoric. The threat of low wages was used to promote high tariffs, and many Republican economic nationalists do today. The underlying strategy of the American System was to create synergy between the North ern South ern and West ern regions in order to increase the whole country's economic productivity as rapidly as possible. Economic nation alists like Calvin Colton and Henry C lay sincerely believed that by developing the South and integrating it into the national economy at the expense of foreign importers, living standards throughout the whole country (including the South) would improve sig nificantly. as opposed to sectional, importance. I agree with him [Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina who was against the tariff ], that the decision on t he system of policy embraced in this debate involves the future destiny of this growing country. One way, I verily believe, it would lead to deep and general distress, general bankruptcy, and national ruin, without benefit to any part of the Union. The o ther, the existing prosperity will be preserved and augmented, and 32 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 65 6 6.


the nation will continue rapidly to advance in wealth, and power, and greatness, without prejudice to any section of the confederacy. 33 he most important American market was America herself: "Most persons will probably be surprised to find, that about nineteen twentieths of our trade is internal, in distinction from foreign or external." 34 So strong was the organic they made the nation as such into the basic economic actor an indivisible economic unit on whose interests depended the interests of its constituent parts Most unwisely and most unfortunately it [a protective tariff] has, to a great extent, been made a sectional question; but it is purely a patriotic one. No part of this nation can prosper without a protective tariff, for the simple reason that the nation, as a whole, can not prosper without it. 35 By 1848, the northern protectionists associated with th e Whig and Republican parties had reached a consensus that instead of fueling Britain's textile industry, the South should look to its home market, the industrial North 36 The Meaning 33 Register of Debates Senate, 22 Congress, 1 Session, 257. 34 Colton, The Junius Tr acts 34. 35 Ibid., 39. 36 Ibid. 34. Compare List, National System of Political Economy now making to supply England with cotton from the East Indies. If the English succeed in re opening the ancient route of commerce if the new St ate of Texas becomes firmly established if civilization makes progress in Syria and Egypt, in Mexico, and in the States of South America, the cotton planters of the United States will soon comprehend that the home market affords the surest, the most cons tant, and the most durable


Even if it did not often come up in their public messages, however, nationalist parties from before 1856 were aware of the stark differences between regional economies and social systems. The normalization of "free labor" as a mod ern, progressive, and desirable economic model by Republicans meant that the sectional antagonisms that Whigs had long tried to smooth over became a permanent fixture of Republican politics. 37 Beginning in 1856, the Republicans would do what the Whigs had never dared write the South off entir ely as "enemy territory" and campaign only for Northern and Western votes. As a political phenomenon, the anti slavery agenda was more than just a sa nctimonious expression of Yankee Puritanism For a majority of Repu blicans in the 1850s and '60s, the party's indictment of slavery was an indictment of the social and economic institutions of the South. By attacking Southern slavery, northern Republicans were affirming the superiority of their own society a modern and dynamic capitalist society with more potential than the backward, stagnant plantation economy of the South. Before the United States could become a great nation, the thinking went, sectional antagonisms would have to be eliminated so that the states coul d work together for a singular purpose, like the departments or provinces of a nation state. 38 Speaking before a New York Republican audience in 1858, William Seward said in as many words that the sectional estrangements between slave states and free state s constituted 37 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 9 10. 38 Although it is mainly written to explain what its author calls High Modernist" schemes for advanced state building in the twentieth century, James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998) is an excellent starting point for exploring "legibility" as "a central problem in statecraft." The Whig program of internal improvements was meant to create closer economic ties between the states, thereby strengthening national unity.


an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free labor nation. 39 [Emphasis mine.] The chosen instrument for that project was a strong central government the creation of which was a mission much older than the Republican Party In 1832, as the National Republican Party prepared to send Henry Clay up against the incumbent President Jackson, the pa rty convention expressed the need for national unity thusly: The great improvement made by the adoption of the present constitution in the political system of the old confederation, was the extension of the power of the union over the persons of the indiv idual citizens through the action of the federal courts, including, as a necessary ingredient, a right of appeal to these courts from the decisions of those of the states. The adoption of this single salutary provision raised us from the situation of a c luster of poor, imbecile, and, for all substantial purposes, mutually dependent states, oppressed with debts, disturbed by insurrections, and on the verge of absolute anarchy, into our subsequent condition of one great, powerful, prosperous, glorious, free and independent federal republic The rejection of this wholesome principle would bring us back again to the same situation in which we stood before. 40 [ Emphasis mine ] The Democratic Party The more visionary Whig and Republican leaders saw in the A meric an System and Hamiltonian f ederalism a path to national greatness ; but was there a nation wide consensus that the United States must become a modern, consolidated nation state? Not 39 Seward, "The Irrepressible Conflict," 292. 40 History of American Presidential Elections, Volume I 1789 1844 ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1971), 553 66.


at all ustrial economic order, limited government, and the liberties of white people" from 1828 and even beyond the Civil War. 41 Like the Republican Party twenty years later, the Democratic Party had risen from the ashes of an older political party that had faile d to meet the changing needs of the electorate. What would become the Jacksonian Democrat coalition first formed Republican Party, the only major political party between 1815 and 1824. As the par government. Old Republicans desired a return to fi rst principles, mainly by resisting the American System and other nationalisms that had grown up after the War of 1812. Thomas Ritchie and Martin Van Buren, two of the most important party leaders, built a "New York Virginia axis" that promoted laissez fa ire economics and states' rights as the party's core principles. 42 Ideologically, "negativism" (that is, limits on government as opposed to government action) was what held the Democratic coalition together. 43 Many southern and western voters blamed banks and banking for the Panic of 1819; and it was the wholesale suspicion of banking as an institution and of the Bank of the United States in particular that laid the groundwork for what would become the Jacksonian Democrat coalition. The feeling of dislocat ion and disorientation in the western states brought on by broadening markets and the new challenges of a more integrated nation wide 41 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 162. 42 Michael F Holt, Political Parties and American Political Development from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991), 33 3 8. 43 Ibid., 58.


commercial economy were "basic forces" behind the Democratic Party's formation in 1828 and ensured that the party would ha ve reliable support in the South and West for as long as economic issues remained the focus of political campaigns. 44 It was an article of faith in the Democratic Party that tariffs were acceptable only as a means of sec uring government revenue To economists of the classical persuasion, w h i c h i n t e l l e c t u a l l e a d e r s i n t h e p a r t y o f t e n w e r e the only effect of protection was that consumers were made to over pay for their goods as the law of comparative adv antage was turned on its head. The only object of commerce is to transport commodities from countries where they can be purchased for a comparatively small quantity of gold and silver; that is, at a comparatively low price; to other countries where they can be so ld for a greater quantity of gold and silver; that is, at a higher price. 45 A l l i n a l l p rotective tariffs of the kind the Whigs and Republicans favored were probably the most universally condemned poli cies for Northern and Southern D emocrats alike. Indeed, the Democrats became increasingly reactionary through the nineteenth century, to the point that most of their party platform was simply a written attack on the American System. An identical passage in the 1844, 1848, 1852, and 1856 Democratic platforms read: 44 H o l t Political Parties 33 3 4. 45 Condy Raguet, A Treatise on Currency and Banking (Philadelphia: Grigg & Elliot, 1840), 12 R a g u e t w a s a r e c e n t c o n v e r t o r i g i n a l l y a F e d e r a l i s t h e became a proponent of Ricardian free trade after the Panic of 1819, which Old Republicans blamed on the Second Bank of the United States and its fai lure to control i nflation after the War of 1812.


Resolved That the Federal Government is one of limited powers, derived solely from the C onstitution, and the grants of power shown therein ought [ T]he Constitution does not confer upon the General Government the power to commence a nd carry on a general system of internal improvements. A Voluntary Union Beginning with John C. Calhoun in the 1830s, Southern Democrats began to subscribe to a "compact theory of constitutional origins" that is, a view of the Constitution as a compact between several sovereign states rather than a proper nation state. In 1860, w ith the defection of many Northern anti slavery Democrats to the secession, this constitut ional doctrine would be more or less crystallize d in the Southern Democratic Party that found itself in control of the Confederate States. The Democratic principles laid do 46 The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, in which Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had affirmed Alien and Sedi tion Acts), were revived by Southern constitutional scholars to help combat the American System. Indeed, even the Northern wing of the party adhered to Calhoun's states' rights ideology, long after the Civil War had escalated. The Republicans' radical fe deralism was satirized in an 1864 Democratic pamphlet, "The Lincoln Catechism." 46 "Democratic Platform of 1856," in Johnson (ed.), Nationa l Party Platforms 25.


How were the States formed? By the United States. Is the Constitution older than the States which made it? It is. Have the States any rights? None but such as the Presid ent gives. 47 Taken to the extreme, the compact theory of constitutional origins also meant that a state could lawfully secede from the union by unilaterally un ratifying the Constitution and revoking its compact with the other states provided its reasons were constitutionally sound. T he Frontier : An Economic Battleground The individual's relationship to the federal government was a major sticking point in the two party debate over Constitutional theory, as we will explore in the second chapter. "Materia l and moral developments were but two sides of the same coin," 48 and Republican campaigns and editorials often communicated a gratifying sense of progress in the economic and social makeup of the North as a vindication of Republican policies. All of the se lf made men who rose from poverty to prosperity by the sweat of their brows, it was believed, owed their success to the prudent designs of their government. Lincoln's own biography and personal origins were part of his appeal to northern Republicans, and campaign speeches on his behalf often lionized Lincoln as a kind of heroic laborer. The German American nationalist Carl Schurz called him a "child of labor," Republican pamphlets and cartoons cultivated a public image of Lincoln the Rail 47 "The Lincoln Catechism," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., History of American Presidential Elections, 1789 1968 (New York: Chelsea House, 1971), 1214. 48 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 39.


Splitter as an e xample of the social mobility that free labor made possible. 49 Unlike the poor, city dwelling migrants whom Republicans saw as a threat to the free labor agenda Western settlers were people of means who sought to become "business like farmers" landed en trepreneurs who operated farms for profit and not simply for subsistence. The distinction between rural and urban labor which would define the labor movement of the early twentieth century had not yet arisen; both the western farmer and the northeastern m anufacturer saw their success as a vindication of t he free labor ideal. 50 Because westward migration for farmers, not slaves was so important to the survival of free labor, Republicans promoted it vigorously. Just as closing American markets to cheap f oreign goods was intended to keep wages high, it was thought that encouraging the migration of poorer Americans westward would reduce labor competition and raise the wages of workers everywhere. The concentration of the urban poor was a source of great an xiety for Republicans because it belied the general prosperity and equality of opportunity that was the mai n selling point of free labor a ny slackening in the growth of the northern middle class was a very dangerous development. The Homestead Act, in it s various incarnations between 1841 and its wartime passage in 1862, was a measure intended to ensure that free labor would endure by providing overcrowded eastern labor markets with cheap land as a kind of safety valve. As an added bonus, settling the we st with free laborers and farmers would check the expansion of slavery and cultivate the growth of core Republican constituencies. 51 Owen Lovejoy, 49 Indeed, The Rail Splitter was 50 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 14 6. 51 Ibid., 27 8.


one of a growing number of northern anti slavery Democrats who joined the Republican Party's Radical faction i n the late 1850s, voiced such a sentiment in the House. The donation of public lands in small freeholds to actual settlers will greatly increase the number of those who belong to what is called the middle class....It is to this class that the State must l ook for its support, permanence, and prosperity; not to those who at night go to the cellar or the slave hut; nor to those who enter the mansion or palatial abode....Let the idler in the crowded city, asking, and perhaps asking in vain, for the charity of wages, go there and make him a home. Let the young man from the over populous States whose paternal estate affords him no chance of occupancy and labor, go and make him a home....Let the foreigner who desires to escape the penury or despotism of other cou ntries, and to cast his lot loyally with us, go there and make a home. 52 Beneath the hopeful optimism of Lovejoy's speech is a hint of the Republicans' apprehensions that the North was in danger of becoming stratified, overcrowded and stagnant like the ari stocratic South and Old World that they reveled in criticizing. Like most conservative parties, the Republicans had a majoritarian streak and identified themselves with the educated, sober, and hard working "middle class" of the country. The y associated the Democrats with the very rich and the very poor, two groups that they and the interests they represented were consciously organizing to squeeze the great middle of the country. 53 The "idler" and "foreigner" were the party's natural enemies and 52 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 1 Session, Appendix, 175. 53 As with most social ills, it was the incompatibility of the planta tion economy with the rest of the national economy that made its economic interests contrary to those of American labor; cf. List, National System of Political Economy England was only profitable for the agricultural labor of American sla ves; the freest, the most civilized, and the most powerful States of the Union were arrested in their material progress and reduced to send their annual surplus of population and capital to the


were grea tly feared as a potential drag on the Northern economy; therefore the free labor sphere would have to expand geographically in order to absorb them safely. 54 pressible resolve. The eco nomic systems of the North and South were competing for the same space and for the support of an increasingly powerful and far reaching federal government. Radicals like Lovejoy and Jenkins often couched their support for the former system in homey appeal s to working people. Moderate Republicans like William Seward promoted the American System, with its capital controls and export oriented development, in search of national greatness and the South was the main obstacle. But these states which expect of us a full measure of respect for their independence must remember that the object of those who formed the Constitution of this country was to create not a confederation simply, but a Union. With the growth of our national dominion this object of the fath ers has become more and more truly the ideal of the people. Especially in the Northern States has the notion of a great, free and united America wrought itself into the popular heart....And whatever impedes the advance or interferes with the prosperity of the Nation, of the United States as a grand consolidated empire will excite the attention and invite upon itself the indignation of the Northern States....Here, then, is an aspect of the Northern hostility to Slavery which it becomes the So uth to conside r very carefully. 55 [E mphasis mine .] after 1860 was not co ntroversial in his own party l ike most Republicans, Lincoln was an ardent nationalist. In his 1861 inaugural addres s, Lincoln channel ed 54 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free M en 34. 55 Why do we Meddle with Slavery? New York Times May 16, 1857.


d the very idea of secession by enunciating the concept of a national, as opposed to federal, union: I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void; and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary.... 56 Because he maintained that the U nion exist ed in perpetuity and could not be dissolved by fiat, President Lincoln as its chief magistrate claimed not only the authority but the duty to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the dutie s and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force 57 The ambiguity of this passage seems almost too strong to be accidental. To a unionist, it sounds like a promise not to initiate hostilities against the South unless the however, it sounds like a threat to invade the South if it resists the continued presence of federa l (foreign!) troops and tax collectors. It may be that by announcing his intention of holding federal buildings in the seceded states, Lincoln was trying to maneuver the South 56 Speeches and Writings, 1859 1865 217 18. 57 I b i d 21 8


your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being n ready to compromise; but for Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans, the American System was non negotiable. The secession crisis of 1860 was not just another crisis of law and order; it was an existential threat to the entire Whig Republican agenda: to co nstruct in the United States the machinery of a modern nation state capable of bringing the whole country into the industrial era.


2 ROMANTIC NATIONALISM AND THE CRISIS OF THE UNION While the secession crisis of 1860 realized the worst fears of national ists in the Northern governing elite, it also awoke in the larger body politic a more nebulous fear of social upheaval. In addition to Lincoln, his cabinet, and a majority of Congress, more than two million men ultimately would take up arms to fight and kill for the Union. The importance of the federal union as a tool of political economy has hitherto been covered in detail, but the danger that Southern secession posed to the American System does not entirely explain the fanatical zeal with which Nort herners resisted it. Eighteen year olds did not go to war to defend the American System; instead, they were fighting against secession as an abstraction one which, as members of a by now widely distributed political culture, they found thoroughly un Ame rican. If the so called Moderate faction of the Republican Party best represented the hopes and fears of former Whigs in the 1850s and '60s, then the Radical faction many of whose membership consisted of disaffected free soil Democrats had its finger on the many old guard Jacksonian Democrats who in their past battles had been distrustful of central banking. 58 As slavery became more and more entrenched as a politic al interest, 58 to charter a national bank; that we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best interests of the country, dangerous to ou r republican institutions and the liberties of the people, and calculated to place the business of the country within the control of a


Power." 59 That many Radicals belonged to the Old Republican tradition is clear from the readiness with which they invoked the language and ideals of the old republi c. Salmon P. Chase Reclaims the Constitution Even before the formation of the Republican Party in 1854, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio emerged as the indispensable intellectual leader of the radical antislavery movement. Formerly a Jacksonian Democrat, he was t he principal architect of the Liberty Party that ran candidates for president in 1840 and 1844, converting what had been a fanatical, Quixotic and widely unpopular moral crusade into a viable political movement. 60 In his correspondence with party leaders, Chase stressed the importance of distinguishing between abolition and anti slavery that is, between opposition to slavery everywhere and opposition to its expansion. The former was regarded as extremist and inflammatory even in the North, and Chase did what he could to broaden the base by distancing the party from it. The appropriation of the Jeffersonian legacy and its deployment in the anti slavery cause was almost certainly Chase's most important contribution to what would become the Republican Party base. Quoting at length from the Founders' letters, papers, public documents, and even old legislation, Chase made the case in his Senate speech es and public addresses that the first generation of American statesmen had planned for, and worked toward, the early abolition of slavery. The end result of this historical revisionism was a new Constitutional theory which could be used as a weapon against the 59 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 90 9 1. 60 Ibid., 79 80.


of the Wilmot Pr oviso : This ordinance [The Northwest Ordnance], in its sixth article of compact, expressly prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude, except for crime, throughout the territory. It abolished existing slavery, and it forbade future slavery. It covered with this prohibition every inch of territory then belonging to the United States. It expressly declared the national policy which this prohibition and kindred provisions contained in the articles of compact were meant to indicate and establish....If it was right and acceptable to abolish existing slavery, and prohibit future slavery in the Northwestern Territory in 1787, the prohibition of the extension of slavery into the territory acquired from Mexico, where no slave now exists, cannot be just cause of offense in 1850. 61 In short, Chase argued that the Constitution was an anti slavery document; and therefore, that the federal government was necessarily an anti slavery institution. By turning the language of Calhoun and the Southern Democrats on its hea d, moreover, Chase brought a new and powerful challenge to that party's defense of slavery on Constitutional or states rights grounds. I have spoken freely of slave State ascendancy in the affairs of this Government, but I desire not to be misunderstood. I take no sectional position. The supporters of slavery are the sectionalists, if sectionalists there are. Freedom is national ; slavery only is local and sectional. I do not complain at all that the offices of the country have been filled by southern g entlemen. Let them have the offices, if they will only administer the Government in conformity with its original principles 62 [Emphasis mine.] 61 Congressional Globe 31 Con gress, 1 Session, Appendix, 468. 62 I b i d 3 1 Congress, 1 Session, Appendix, 474.


against slavery was adopted by anti slav Massachusetts like Charles Francis Adams, and his new interpretation of the Constitution would be integrated into the Republican platform in 1856 and 1860. Chase's version of the country's history was also adopted wh olesale by Radical Republicans, who reveled in quoting the abolitionist sentiments of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and other founders, which Chase had been the first to add to the national lore. 63 Charles Sumner, a former Conscience Whig and a leading R adical Republican after 1858, was one of the most eloquent. I oppose the unanswerable, irresistible truth, that the Constitution of the United States nowhere recognizes property in man....It is only when Slavery is exhibited in its truly hateful character that we can fully appreciate the absurdity of the assumption, which, in defiance of the express letter of the Constitution, and without a single sentence, phrase, or word, upholding human bondage, yet foists into this blameless text the barbarous idea tha t man can hold property in man. 64 Chase and his disciples in the Republican Party had made the constitutionality of slavery such a key issue that the election of 1860 essentially became a referendum on the Constitution. The 1860 Republican Platform contai deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any te 65 63 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 82 8 4. 64 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 1 Session, 2590 9 1. 65 Natio nal Party Platforms 32.


The "Slave Power" Emerges The consternation that Radicals felt about corrupting sectional interests like the the Democratic Party. As e xplored in the first chapter, the Democratic Party in Andrew keep its Northern and Southern constituencies united by adhering strictly to a philosophy of limited government or, less mythic ideal of a night watchman state." 66 platform in e very election, forbid the federal government to foster one branch of industry to the detriment of another, or to cherish the interests of one portion to the injury section of the country, h as a right to insist on an equality of rights and privileges. 67 In short, the national Democratic Party maintained internal cohesion by refusing to take sides on divisive issues wherever possible including slavery. Nevertheless, efforts to steer the party down a middle road on sectional issues North South axis, many Southern Democrats, led by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, worked toward Souther n leadership of the party and a more aggressively pro Southern 66 Gerring, Party Ideologies in America 171. 67 National Party Platforms 1.


platform. 68 eventually collided over the annexation of Texas after 1836. While Calhoun favored the immediate annexation of Texa s as a slave state, Van Buren as well as Jackson worried that it would put too great a strain on party unity; not to mention the Union itself. 69 By the election of 1844, the opposition to Van Buren over Texas was so strong that it cost him the nomination f or president and James K. P olk of Tennessee was chosen instead. the Mexican War followed. en slaveholding interests in the South. As a result, Northern Democrats shifted from salutary neglect of slavery to vigorous opposition. The Wilmot Proviso, proposed by Pennsylvania Democrat David Wilmot, received all but four Northern votes from both part ies with not a single Southern vote in favor. 70 In 1848, Van Buren bolted the Democratic Part y to run for president at the head substantial number of Northern Democrats. 71 e wrote, resolved 68 Holt, Political Parties 46. 69 Ibid., 57. 70 I b i d 65. 71 That Charles Francis Adams, a former Whig, compl eted the ticket showed just how broad a coalition could be assembled against slavery after the Mexican War


THAT IT IS THE DUTY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RELIEVE ITSELF FROM ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE EXISTENCE OR CONTINUANCE OF SLAVERY WHEREVER THAT GOVERNMENT POSESS CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO LEGISLATE ON THAT SUBJECT, AND IS THUS RESPONSIB LE FOR ITS EXISTENCE. 72 While the Free Soil Party did not, of course, win the White House in 1848 it succeeded in its purpose of punishing the Democratic Party for giving themselves over to the Slave Power Van Buren siphoned nearly 300,000 votes from C ass, enough to cost him the presidency. 73 Democrats took the lesson to heart in 1852 and nominated Franklin 74 The 1852 vatism by emphasizing resist all attempts at renewing, in congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may 75 The North Falls to the Republicans The truce between Northern and Southern Democrats, however, was not to last. Increasingly dissatisfied with their share of patronage in the Pierce Administration, a growing number of "fire eating" Southerner s like James Mason of Virginia and Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina sought to re assert Southern leadership in the party as John C. 72 National Party Platforms 13. The capitalization is original the o nly fully capitalized plank in the 1,200 word platform. 73 The popular vote was 1,361,393 (47 percent) for Zachary Taylor, 1,223,460 (43 percent) for Lewis Cass, and 291,501 (10 percent) for Martin Van Buren. Even with Van Buren as a spoiler, Cass lost the elec toral college by just 36 votes 74 Holt, Political Parties 72. 75 D e m o c r a t i c P l a t f o r m o f 1 8 5 2 i n Johnson ( e d ) N a t i o n a l P a r t y P l a t f o r m s 17.


Calhoun had done. Eventually they formed into a powerful clique with great sway in the lawmaking process, and it was this clique which successfully pressured more moderate Democrats in the Senate to pass the Kansas Nebraska Act, which essentially overturned the Missouri Compromise by permitting slavery in the Trans Appalachian West for the first time since 1820. To the inter ested Northern voter, the Kansas Nebraska Act represented everything that was wrong with slavery. It expan ded the institution into a terr itory where previously it had not existed; it put slave labor into direct competition with free labor; and, most damni ng of all, it facilitated the co option of a state government by the Slave Power. It was the Kansas Nebraska Act that finally strained the Democratic coalition to the breaking point, leading an alliance of Free Soilers, Northern Democrats and a handful of Whigs to create the anti slavery Republican Party in 1854. The Act was a boon for the new party in the mid term elections, who rode the wave of anti slavery sentiment that it had inflamed and swept the Democrats out of the North. By the end, the Kansas Nebraska Act, directly or indirectly, had cost the Democratic Party sixty six seats in Congress. The disaster was repeated in 1856, when disaffected Northern Democrats again voted for Republicans. Erstwhile Free Soil Democrats like David Wilmot, Gideon W elles, Hannibal Hamlin, John C. Fremont and Salmon P. Chase all left the party in 1854 or '56 to run as Republicans. 76 wing was fully formed; however, it wo uld take the addition of conser vative or 76 Holt, Political Parties 75.


would prevail in 1860 and completely win over the Northern electorate. The Panic of 1857 would eventually bring economic issues back to prominence an d facilitate a Whig takeover of the party in the person of Abraham Lincoln; but because of the large number even mention the tariff and the radicalism of its members (so me of whom, like Chase and Adams, were practically abolitionists) meant that only the fiercest anti slavery Whigs supported the party that year. By 1860, things had changed u ltimately, the same forces that had contributed to Democratic victories through the early 1850s would also by 18 6 0, fuel the growth of its rival. While the Whigs were radically progressive in economic affairs, they were also moral guardians of a traditional social order. B etween the Mexican War and high levels the United States. Swelled by new Irish and German members the Catholic Church in the United States, always a political target o f the aggressively Protestant Whigs, grew by more than half between 1850 and 1854. 77 Catholics had become a political force by 1850, when immigrants of the 1840s had become naturalized and beg u n voting. As the party of individual liberty, self determinati 77 Holt, Political Parties 76.


positioned to corner this growing immigrant vote except for a handful of English and German evangelicals. 78 No political party, read the 1856 platform, Can justly be deemed national, constitutional, or in accordance with American principles, which bases its exclusive organization upon religious opinio ns and accidental birth place. And hence a political born is neither justified by the past history or the future prospects of this country, nor in unison with the spirit of toleration and enlarged freedom which peculia rly distinguishes the American system of popular government. 79 The Democrats may have benefitted from the addition of Irish and German immigrants to the voting rolls, but the Whigs and later the Republicans stood to gain from the backlash. In 1856 the nat absorbed the Whig Party, which, rather than run a candidate of its own, simply endorsed former President Millard Filmore who ran on the American Party ticket. The Know Nothings, in their turn, were rolled into the Republican coalition after 1856. While the Know Nothings represented primarily working class resistance to the influx of European immigrants, pietistic middle class organizations targeted the hard drinking Irish and Germans with a new wave of Tem perance initiatives and "do 80 The Republican Party had to grow into the economic nationalism and statism of the Whig Party, but it exhibited from the very beginning the pietism of its predecessor. Republican hard work, frugality, sobriety, and 78 National Party Platforms 2. 79 80 Holt, Political Parties but one of them in the North (Figure 4).


honesty. 81 Republican politics at the state level were highly conservative, and state parties aggressively used government as a weapon against license and sin. Conservative diatribes about the licentious ness of the Democratic Party were common in Republican leaning publications. "Where free schools are regarded as a nuisance, where religion is least honored, and lazy unthrift is the rule," read one election year editorial, "there Buchanan has received hi s strongest support." 82 Immigrants and Catholics were not the only targets of Yankee Protestant ism the Republicans inevitably took aim at slavery as well. Protestants from millenarian traditions believed that righteous living and the propagation of Ame rican values in the earth. 83 Whether at the state or federal level, government was seen as an instrument for stamping out sin; including slavery, which, on top of its i njustices, fostered sloth and idleness. T diminished the nation, but halted the progress of human civilization. By the end of the Civil War, the conflict would come to be seen as a purify ing experience by which the nation would be purged of these evils. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln even asked his audience to ponder whether the war itself was the punishment of a just God. 81 Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 12 1 3. 82 Chicago Democratic Press N ovember 19, 1856. In an 1860 political cartoon (Figure 5), Buchanan is literally "satyrized" as the Greek god Pan, associated with wine and hedonism. 83 Mark A. Noll, ( New York: Oxford University Pres s, 2002), 556.


If we shall suppose that American slavery is on e of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense c ame shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it c ontinue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so stil l it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 84 Many of the same Americans who saw the expansion of slavery as pernicious to Christian living and progress also came to see the United States as the bearer of another provi dential trust; and this sentiment, too, would be mobilized in support of political anti slavery and the Union. Ethnic Nationalism and "Anglo Saxonism" Beneath the surface of the free labor ideology (and, just as often, atop the surface) was a profound se nse of racial superiority, and a worrying concern that the expansion of slavery into new territories for the benefit of a few would check the processes that elevated the worthy, white American. Over decades of contact with the indigenous people of the Ame ricas and of experience with African slavery, Americans from both political backgrounds had come to accept an early version of Manifest Destiny. It was simply a law of nature that so advanced and progressive a race of people would 84 Speeches and Writings 1859 1865 686 87


inevitably overrun the c ontinent, displacing the "inferior" races that stood in their path almost by accident. 85 In the Northern imagination, the lands that had been sei zed from Mexico in 1847 and '48 rightfully ability to govern and civilize themselves had won it from Mexico in the first place. A majority of Mexico's inhabitants, declared Daniel S. Dickinson, belong to the fated aboriginal races, who can neither uphold government or be restrained by it; who flourish only amid the haunts of savage indolence, and perish under, if they do not recede before, the influences of civilization. Like their doomed brethren, who were once spread over the several States of the Union, they are destined, by laws above human agency, to give w ay to a stronger race from this continent or another. 86 The migration of slaves westward would replace one inferior race with another as the primary occupants of the land, crowd out white settlers, and rob an exceptional people of its best opportunities fo r economic fulfillment. This explains why Radical Republicans like Owen Lovejoy saw in the Homestead Act a way to "Anglo Saxonize" the west and in the process save the frontier for the order loving yeoman farmers of the North. Let the tide of Christian c ivilization move compactly onward, and unobstructed; and in its path shall spring up neighborhoods, villages, schools, churches, mechanic arts, and all the varied developments of industrial communities. Before this compact and resistless host of hardy and intelligent pioneers...the frontier settlements, being compact and self protecting, will save in governmental outlay more than the worth of the lands at the present legal valuation....let that class of citizens of which I 85 Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo Saxonism ( Cambridge: Harvard U niversity Press, 1981), 230. 86 Congressional Globe 30 Congress, 1 Session, 158.


have spoken be increased. They a re, more than any other class, the hope of the country. 87 The Wilmot Proviso which expressly banned the institution of slavery from the new territories was an even more brazen and controversial attempt to ensure that free, white labor would have the fr ontier to itself. "It is the influence and effect of this policy [slavery in the Territories] upon white labor of which I especially complain," Wilmot explained in 1848, shortly before he was to join Van Buren's Free Soil Party. "It gives up to the cupid ity of the slaveholder...that which of right belongs to free labor, and which is necessary for the support of our own race and people." 88 The Anglo Saxon Mission A great number of American intellectuals and romantic nationalists believed that it was the mi ssion of the American people to subdue the continent and claim it for what civilization. 89 To Northern Whigs like William Seward (one of the first to become a Republican, in the free labor system and the institutions of self government that Americans were uniquely capable of using. The South, which arrested the spread of free labor and which was inherently less capable of self government as a result, imperiled the Anglo Saxon mission by its continued tolerance of slavery In this modern, Anglo Saxon nation of the future, slavery simply did not belong. 87 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 1 Session, Appendix, 175. 88 I b i d 30 Congress, 1 Session, 1079. 89 Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny 172.


This African slave system is one which, in its origin a nd in its growth, has been altogether foreign from the habits of the races which colonized these states, and established civilization here. It was introduced on this new continent as an engine of conquest, and for the establishment of monarchical power, b y the Portuguese and the Spaniards, and was rapidly extended by them all over South America, Central America, Louisiana and Mexico. Its legitimate fruits are seen in the poverty, imbecility, and anarchy, which now pervade all Portuguese and Spanish Americ a. The free labor system is of German extraction, and it was established in our country by emigrants from Sweden, Holland, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland. 90 Even those Republicans who had formerly been followers of Van Buren and his mission. William Henry Bisse l l, a Democrat who in 1857 would become the first Republican governor of I llinois, observed in the House: We are attached to the Union aye, devotedly are we attached to it. We regard it as the ark of safety for the American people. We know that the realization of the hopes for human freedom through out the world depends upo n its perpetuity." 91 A Crisis for Self Government The idea of secession in the North as against the South could not have been more different. Southern Democrats drew parallels everywhere between secession and the spirit of the American Revolution armed resistance to a government which had refused at every turn to answer their peaceful petitions and which was now under the control of 90 Seward, "The Irrepressible Co nflict," 290. 91 Congressional Globe 31 Congress, 1 Session, Appendix, 228.


an expressly Northern party whose declared mission was the undoing of their way of life. The Confederates insisted that th ey were not states in rebellion but an independent republic; and that, as they had no designs on controlling the federal government in Washington, the war was no civil war at all. 92 Each section saw itself, in no uncertain terms, as a victim of the other. The Southern "independence movement" was, to a Northern brain, nothing of the sort. Quite the contrary, it was a complete repudiation of democracy itself by a subversive faction that had not had its way. Charles Henry Van Wyck of New York expressed such a sentiment on the House floor. Gentlemen talk about the brute force of majorities, and declare they will Dare you but exercise the right of freemen, in a clear and constitutional mode; elect for President a man of your ch oice, and believe in the teachings of all parties down to 1848, and the dogs of war shall be set loose upon you. Already you are making appropriations of thousands to build arsenals, to purchase arms, and are now mustering forces, as you say, to threa ten and coerce the north. 93 Four days after the capture of Fort Sumter, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune was even more blunt. We have a civil war on our hands. There is no use looking away from the fact. For this year the Chief Business of the Am erican people must be proving that they have a Government, and that freedom is not another name for anarchy. 94 92 The American Party Systems: Stages of Political Development ed. William Nisbet Chambers and Wal ter Dean Burnham (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 120 2 1. 93 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 1 Session, 1031. 94 New York Tribune April 17, 1861.


To most Americans, and especially those in the villages of the rural North who constituted the Radical Republican base, government was a local, intimate thing. Indeed, a lmost all government was local o f the 36,500 civilians on the federal payroll, about 30,000 were local postmasters. Northerners accustomed to rich participation in local gov ernment associated the entire institution of government with a sense of community and belonging, and so the very idea of dissolving the government at any level left them personally scandalized. 95 By far the most famous European traveler and one of the most adroit, Alexis de Tocqueville observed the ease with which Americans translated their sense of belonging at the local level into a broader sense of nationalism. Public spirit in the Union is, in a sense, only summing up of provincial patriotism. Every citizen of the United States may be said to transfer the concern inspired in him by his little republic into his love of the common motherland. 96 Once the state of South Carolina seceded and threatened to take the rest of the South with it, mobilizing thi Sumter is instructive. any party, or combination of men, that propose to destroy the American Union, must and will fail. Our inheritance is indivisible. The Union has not been and cannot be dissolved. Its fibrous interlacings of interests cannot be sundered. Heroic deeds, revolutionary reminiscences, commercial relations, domestic relations, the continuit y of a boundless 95 The America n Historical Review 77 (October 1972), 1021. 96 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America ed. J. P. Mayer et al. (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 147.


coast, immense rivers, mountain chains, iron bands, are our common property; one national anthem our inspiration, one flag our symbol! No, sir; I hold it next to treason, at a time like this, to claim that the Union of our fathers is dissolved. Every true man, every native and adopted citizen, should rally around her altar and swear to maintain the Union, without reservation, in all peril, and in every contingency. 97 The Men ace of Southern Lawlessness While Northern attitudes about self government could be highly communitarian, Southern elites emphasized the dignity of the individual as the highest end of the law and often elevated private codes of honor to the same level. D ueling, for example, was a more or less integral part of Southern politics. In the agrarian environment of the South, ownership of land and of slaves was seen as a means of uplifting the individual, making him a law unto himself. 98 Aspiring Southerners ou tside the plantation elite internalized these values as well, so that institutions considered anti modern or even barbaric in the North were seen in the South as the basic foundation of civilized society. Perhaps one of the best examples of this gulf in w hat was considered proper and lawful conduct was Preston Brooks' severe beating of Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber in 1856. I n t h e m i d s t o f a s h a r p r e b u k e o f t h e K a n s a s N e b r a s k a A c t S u m n e r w h o w a s k n o w n f o r h i s c o n f r o n t a t i o n a l s t y l e i n t h e S e n a t e o p e n l y q u e s t i o n e d t h e c h a r a c t e r o f t h e s e n i o r S e n a t o r f r o m S o u t h C a r o l i n a S e n a t o r A n d r e w B u t l e r : The Senator from South Carolina has read many books of chivalry, and believes himself a chivalrous knight, with sentiments of honor and courage. Of course he has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his 97 Congressional Globe 36 Congress, 2 Session, 909. 98 Journal of Southern History 6 (1940), 3 23.


vows, and who, though ugly to others, is al ways lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight I mean the harlot, Slavery. 99 T h r e e f e w d a y s a f t e r t h e o f f e n d i n g s p e e c h t h e j u n i o r S e n a t o r f r o m S o u t h C a r o l i n a P r e s t o n B r o o k s a k i n s m a n o f B u t l e r t o o k e x c e p t i o n a n d c o n f r o n t e d S u m n e r i n t h e S e n a t e c h a m b e r w h i l e o u t o f s e s s i o n B r o o k s l e t t e r t o h i s b r o t h e r e x p l a i n i n g t h e i n c i d e n t i s v e r y i l l u m i n a t i n g i n d e e d I have given Senator Sumner a caning and lest Mother should feel unnecessary alarm I write to give a det ailed statement of the occurrence Sumner made a violent speech in which he insulted S outh Carolina and Judge Butler grossly. The Judge was and is absent and his friends all concurred in the opinion that the Judge would be compelled to flog him....Under the circumstances I felt it to be my duty to relieve Butler and avenge the insult to my State. I waited an hour and a half in the grounds on the day before yesterday for S[umner] when he escaped me by taking a carr iage. Did the same thing yesterday and with the same result. I then went to the Senate and waited until it adjourned. There were some ladies in the Hall and I had to wait a full hour until they left. I then went to S's seat and said. "Mr. Sumner, I have read your Speech with care and as much impartiality as was possible and I feel it my duty to tell you that you have libeled my State and slandered a relative who is aged and absent and I am come to punish you for it." At the concluding words I struck him with my cane and gave him about 30 first rate stripes.... Every lick went where I intended. For about the first five of six licks he offered to make fight but I plied him so rap idly that he did not touch me. 100 99 C o n g r e s s i o n a l G l o b e 3 4 C o n g r e s s 1 S e s s i o n 5 3 0 T h e i n s i n u a t i o n o f r a p e a n d m i s c e g e n a t i o n i s n o t a c c i d e n t a l S u m n e r s c h o i c e o f t h e w o r d c h i v a l r y i n s p i r e d a k i n d o f c r a z e i n p o l i t i c a l c a r t o o n s d e p i c t i n g h i s b r u s h w i t h S o u t h e r n c h i v a l r y ( F i g u r e 6 ) 100 Robert L. Meriwethe r on the Caning of Charles Sumner i n The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 52 (January 1951): 1 4


In defending his actions, Brooks uses the language of corporal punishment. Sumner did not receive "a beating," but rather "a caning." The denigrating vocabulary he uses to describe his intent as well as his actions holds a clue to the wa y a typical Southern gentleman might have viewed the incident. Brooks was defending the honor of a kinsman and his own state, and the fact that he elected to use his cane a talisman of his gentry status r ather than fight a duel suggests that he though t a "Black Republican" like Sumner beneath his social standing. When Sumner returned to the Senate in 1860 and gave a vitriolic comeback speech on the Senate floor, 101 Senator James Chesnut o f South Carolina began his rebuttal by implying that Sumner had failed to learn his lesson. After ranging over Europe, crawling through the back doors to whine at the feet of British aristocracy, craving pity, and reaping a rich harvest of contempt, the s landerer of States and men re appears in the Senate. We had hoped to be relieved from the outpourings of such vulgar malice. We had hoped that one who had felt, though ignominiously he failed to meet, the consequences of a former insolence, would have be come wiser, if not better, by experience. 102 While Southerners saw the rule of law as compatible with private violence, however, most Northerners emphatically did not. In his famous Springfield Lyceum speech in 1832, Abraham Lincoln had condemned the prac tice of mob violence and lynching as a path to anarchy. I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitu te the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of the Courts; and the 101 The speech is quoted above, p. 35. 102 Congressional Globe ; 36 Congress, 1 Session, 2603.


they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order loving citizen s of the land of steady habits [New strongest bulwark of any government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed I mean the attachm 103 In summary, the animating spirit of the Republican Party, the Northern war effort which it directed, and the Northern citizens who took up arms at its direction went much deeper than a simple desire to see the American System continue d. Rather, the Republican Party after 1854 and the Lincoln administration after 1861 saw in Southern secession and its causes a mortal danger to their most cherished institutions: Self government, economic opportunity, a moral center, and a sense of racia l destiny. It may acquirement or establishment of them they are a legacy bequeat hed to us, by a once hardy, brave and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors." 104 For Lincoln and his Springfield audience, the greatest and most ennobling labor in Illinois, at any rate had already been done by previous generations. With the end of this mythical and Herculean period of American history came the perils of stagnation, sloth and ignoble ease; best represented in the Northern conscience by Southern slavery and, to a lesser extent, the immigrant slums of Philadelphia, Ne w York and Boston. The Civil War was fought, not only to secure the Union, but everything that the Union promised. 103 Speeches and Writings 1832 1858 31. 104 Ibid.


3 FOREIGN PERSPECTIVES ON AMERICAN NATIONALISMS Too often, the American Civil War is studied in isolation from its environment the global economy and geopolitics of the mid nineteenth century. To the interested scholar this is evinced by the relative diplomatic history; which, compared to the volumes upon volumes devoted to its military history, is not a little disappointing. The Civil War and the long buildup to did not take place in a vacuum on lookers in Britain, France, Russia, and Central Europe brought their own interests and ideologies to the spectacle before them, and historians have much to lose by confining themselves only to the turmoil within America itself. Europeans of all persuasions were quite comfortable using their own nationalisms to make sense of the American war, and many of the nationalisms driving the war effort The American Civil War was a topic of discourse in governing circles, naturally; but it was also the object of much apprehension on the p art of public intellectuals and to regular people. However far removed geographically, people in Europe saw much at stake in the American Civil War. For one thing, it meant an almost unp recedented disruption of the global economy as the Union blockade halted the movement of raw cotton to the textile mills of Western Europe As this chapter will illustrate, however, the pecuniary effects of the war, however devastating, were not enough to bring any country into the war on the Confederate side. Why did the respective governments of Britain and France countries that had built an enormous share of their national prosperity on the American stay aloof from the South with such


forbearance? What did lookers on across Europe see in the Northern cause that made it, in most cases, the politically correct one? F i n a l l y h o w c o u l d a f a v o r a b l e o u t c o m e i n t h e A m e r i c a n w a r b e u s e d t o a d v a n c e n a t i o n a l i s t o r a n t i n a t i o n a l i s t a g e n d a s e l s e w h e r e ? France Looks On On April 15, 1865, when the news of the fall of R ichmond came to the French parliament as they debat e d their reply to the Emperor's annual speech from the throne, one deputy cried Tant pis !" ("So much the worse!"). A resolution introduced by the liberal opposition praising th victo ry was voted down 24 195. As was the case in most of Europe, French public opinion on the Civil War was mixed; but as the vote in Parliament suggests, pro Union sentiment in France was out of the ordinary even at this late stage in the war. 105 F rench observ ers tended to favor the South, if for different reasons and to different degrees At first, pro Southern feeling arose from a wish to see the war over with a wish that outlasted some of the hopes for Southern victory. 106 Many wealthy Parisian elites were acquainted with Southern gentleman planters who vacationed in France, and those Frenchmen who viewed the Civil War through a nationalist lens saw it as a fight over Southern independence and self determination. Many of these same Frenchmen romanticized the knightly Southern "Cavaliers" against the puritan Northern "Roundheads" in wha t they saw as a new Anglo Saxon civil war. All in all, a fair number of French onlookers found sympathy with the South for largely sentimental reasons. 105 Heard Round the World: The Impact Abroad of the Civil War ed. Harold Hyman (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1968), 105 0 6. 106 Ibid., 105.


The War Intrudes into Politics French conservatives generally and imperialists in particular profess ed hostility to the North out of an aversion to liberal democracy, and gleefully awaited the collapse of a republic which disdained "old Europe" and haughtily claimed hegemony over an entire continent. 107 At the war's end, many conservatives recognized that the United States had emerged from the war stronger and more assertive than before, even going so far as to predict the overthrow of European world leadership. Proponents of Emperor Napoleon ghtly saw the United States as its main obstacle and found that the Southern cause suited their interests. Inversely, the Northern cause was appropriated by French liberals and became spoken partisanship allowed them to advocate radical and dangerous ideas without censure from the government. 108 Public intellectuals including Alexis de Tocqueville, Victor Hugo and Henri Martin praised the Union in writing as a proxy for the constitutional Orleanist monarchy or the Second Republic which Napoleon's Second Empire had replaced, while other French liberals instinctively gravitated toward the North once slavery became the issue of the war. Liberals were also anxious that American democracy surv ive because it was the world's best example of a viable free government, and even after the war had ended they worried that a "vindictive peace" might tarnish the moral authority of the 107 P i n k n e y France and the Civil War 106 0 7. 108 Ibid., 115.


Union and undermine this ideological victory for liberty in France. 109 S t i l l t h e o f f e n d i n g r e s o l u t i o n i n p a r l i a m e n t s t r u c k a h o p e f u l n o t e : W e h a v e p r o c l a i m e d f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g o u r s y m p a t h y f o r t h e n o r t h e r n s t a t e s o f A m e r i c a T h a n k s t o h e r o i c e f f o r t s s l a v e r y i s a b o l i s h e d W e s h a l l b e h a p p y t o s e e t h e p o w e r f u l R e p u b l i c o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s t h e n a t u r a l a l l y o f F r a n c e r e e s t a b l i s h e d a n d w e s h a l l h a i l w i t h j o y a t r i u m p h t h a t w i l l c o s t n o t h i n g t o t h e c a u s e o f l i b e r t y 110 R As in France, the two belligerents in the American Civil War were made into proxies by various political factions in Russia. As lovers of strong central government, Russian monarchists and conservatives naturally saw the Confederac y as illegitimate and hoped for its re annexation. Conservative Russians were also more pleased with the Lincoln administration, seeing it as a foil to the Radical Republicans in Congress whom they likened to the Jacobins during the French Revolution. Th ey were more inclined than Edouard de Stoeckl, had very strong opinions which appear to have informed his reports to the Russian foreign ministry. Though he held no title of nobility and married an American Protestant "without property," Stoeckl counted himself as an aristocrat and liked to be called Baron." 111 Like many of that political persuasion, he rejected the right of secession as little differ ent from anarchy. 112 His dispatches to the foreign minister in Moscow became increasingly pessimistic as sectional tensions grew and the 109 118. 110 I b i d 1 0 5 111 Albert A. Woldman, Lincoln and the Russians (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1952), 15. 112 Ibid., 64.


slavery issue came to front and center, and he openly regretted "the downfall of a great nation" as both sides gave in to fanaticism. 113 Sto eckl was intensely skeptical of democracy and was prone to using the term "demagogue" to describe American politicians; particularly the radical R e p u b licans. 114 He had a higher opinion of Jefferson Davis than of Abraham Lincoln and compared the former's "abs olute power" to the vacillating leadership of the federal government, "where everyone commands and no one wishes to obey." 115 He was typical of the European observer in yet another way in that his support for the Union over the Confederacy was largely cynica l. If his government still hoped for the restoration of the Union, Stoeckl considered secession to be a fait accompli" and did not rule out Russian recognition of Southern independence for that reason. Russian Liberals also supported the Northern cause, albeit for different reasons. Many Russian reformers compared their own country to the stagnant and backward South, while the Western European countries they thought Russia should emulate were compared to the modern and progressive Northern states 116 Russia's humiliating defeat by Britain and France in the Crimean War informed predictions about who would win the American Civil War, and Russians were far more skeptical of Southern victory than British or French observers. 117 Radical Russian liberals wat ched the civil war in America with interest, but most still believed that Europe was a more important revolutionary battleground. They read about the Civil War trying to divine where it would take the rest 113 Woldman, Lincoln and the Russians 25. 114 Ibid., 31. 115 Ibid. 41 2. 116 Heard Round the World: The Impact Abroad of the Civil War ed. Harold Hyman (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1968), 193. 117 Ibid., 194.


of the world progres would prevail 118 While Russian interest in the Civil War was very strong, it was also rather transient and did not outlast the war itself. Russian intellectuals were only really interested in America as it related to their own goals for Russia and became increa A C h a l l e n g e t o F r e e T r a d e The springing up of infant industries in New England during the War of 1812 turned out to be the beginning of a trade war between America and Great Britain which lasted into the 1830s, and American protectionism was fueled not only by pressures from Northern manufacturing interests but by attempts by British manufacturers to "dump" their goods on American markets, which threatened to force newe r U.S. manufacturers out of business. 119 As the classic Ricardian free trade theory gained force in Britain, the American System came to be seen by British free trade advocates as the main obstacle to global free trade. The South's opposition to the Americ an System and the high prices that accompanied it engendered some favorable opinion from the British industrial class, e v e n i f this good will was tempered by the problem of plantation slavery. 120 T h e f r e e t r a d e c o n s e n s u s i n B r i t i s h c i r c l e s w a s s t r o n g ; a n d E u r o p e a n l i b e r a l s g e n e r a l l y g r a v i t a t e d t o w a r d l a i s s e z f a i r e t r a d e t h e o r y f o r t h e s a m e r e a s o n s D e m o c r a t s d i d i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s n a m e l y t h a t i t s e e m e d t h e b e s t p o s s i b l e e x p r e s s i o n o f l i b e r a l v a l u e s o f e q u a l i t y b e f o r e t h e l a w a n d e q u a l p r o t e c t i o n i n t h e e c o n o m i c s p h e r e Colton's Junius 118 R o g g e r 224. 119 Ephraim Douglass Adams, Great Britain and the American Civil War (New Yor k: Russell & Russell, 1958) 3. 120 Ibid., 21.


Tracts are profoundly anti British and encourage t h e p r i m a r i l y W h i g a f f i l i a t e d N e w Y o r k T r i b u n e r e a d e r s h i p to be suspicious of any f o r e i g n m a n u f a c t u r e r of finished goods w h o b o r e t h e s a m e p u b l i c t r u s t a s A m e r i c a n m e r c h a n t s if it be suitable and important to prescribe regulations for t he government of our own citizens, in their foreign trade, who are accountable to us, much more is it important to have an eye on foreigners who trade with us, and who are not accountable to us, except not to violate our laws while they are here. They may have reasons and strong temptations to injure us They may even be in conspiracy with foreign powers against us, and invariably are so, acting as they do under the commercial systems of their respective governments, which are hostile to us, and which they, as traders, have an interest in supporting 121 I n 1 8 4 1 a n o t h e r v o i c e w a s a d d e d t o t h e p r o t e c t i o n i s t c h o r u s I n his National System of Political Economy t h e G e r m a n e c o n o m i s t Friedrich List cited the pre Jacksonian United States as his most powerful influen ce : "The commercial and industrial history of North America is more instructive than any other from our point of view 122 I n d e e d w h a t w o u l d b e c o m e L i s t s l i f e h a d b e g u n a s a s e r i e s o f l e t t e r s w r i t t e n t o t h e P e n n s y l v a n i a S o c i e t y f o r t h e A d v a n c e m e n t o f M a n u f a c t u r e s a n d A r t s w i t h t h e t i t l e O u t l i n e s f o r a N e w S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 123 A r e s i d e n t o f t h e H a r r i s b u r g P e n n s y l v a n i a b e t w e e n 1 8 2 5 a n d 1 8 3 0 L i s t s w i f t l y a b s o r b e d t h e H a m i l t o n i a n o r n e o m e r c a n t i l i s t a p p r o a c h t o p o l i t i c a l e c o n o m y t h a t e n j o y e d s u c h s t r o n g s u p p o r t i n t h a t s t a t e L i s t a l s o i n h e r i t e d f r o m t h e F e d e r a l i s t s a v i e w o f e c o n o m i c d e v e l o p m e n t a s p r i m a r i l y s t a t e d r i v e n 121 C o l t o n J u n i u s T r a c t s 3 4 122 L i s t N a t i o n a l S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 1 6 6 123 I b i d P r e f a c e


Aided by history, we have proved that national unity is an essential condition of durable prosperity; we have shown tha t only where private interest has been subordinate to public interest, and where a succession of generations has pursued one object, have nations attained an harmonious development of their productive power. 124 First published in 1841, the Natio nal System of Political Economy was available in English as early as 1855, when a widely read American edition was published in Philadelphia. J u s t e l e v e n y e a r s a f t e r t h e J u n i u s T r a c t s a p p e a r e d i n p r i n t L i s t s b o o k a r r i v e d t o c o n f i r m i t s g r a v e s t a d m o n i t i o n s ; n o t o n l y f o r t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s b u t f o r a n y n a t i o n w h a t e v e r Long before the German Empire was proclaimed in 1871, the German states had al ready implemented the most important prescription made by List: an expansion of the customs union or Zollverein which effectively gathered the German states together in an economic bubble, with free trade between themselves and high tariffs to insulate the m from foreign exporters. Between 1821 and 1851, states from Prussia in the extreme northeast to Baden and Luxembourg in the southwest homogenized their customs duties and created a sphere of more or less free trade in what would later become the unified state of Germany. I t i s by their Customs Union L i s t i n s i s t e d that German nations now enjoy one of the most important attributes of nationality." 125 While he was himself politically liberal, List was also a harsh critic of the laissez faire consensus in classical economics which he saw as unduly idealistic and theoretical. "The School," as List called it, 124 L i s t N a t i o n a l S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 2 4 3 125 I b i d 2 6 5


presents three essential defects; firstly, a chimerical cosmopolitanism which does not comprehend nationality, and which has no regard for national interests; secondly, a dead materialism, which regards everywhere the exchangeable value of things, taking account neither of the m oral nor of the productive power of the nation; thirdly, a separatism a discouraging individualism which...merely describes or depicts individual industry, as it would develop itself...were it not separated into different nations. But between the indivi dual and the whole human race there is the nation....As the individual acquires chiefly by the aid of the nation and in the bosom of the nation..., human civilization can only be conceived as possible by means of the civilization and development of nations 126 [Emphasis original.] List's master work nowhere challenges Adam Smith's core premise that universal free trade would be the greatest possible net gain for the global economy. Instead, List objected to the fre e trade consensus precisely because it was anti national Like his American contemporary Calvin Colton, List saw the nation, as opposed to the individual, as the basic economic unit. While classical economic theory called for the subordination of nationa l interests to the individual and global good, a mercantilist system of political economy "takes the idea of a nation as its starting point, and treating nations as unities, keeps the attention constantly fixed upon national interests." 127 Like the Junius Tracts then, Friedrich List's National System of Political Economy is every bit a political text as it is an economic one. A l s o l i k e t h e J u n i u s T r a c t s i t p r e a c h e d t h e d a n g e r s o f f r e e t r a d e w i t h a m o r e d e v e l o p e d c o u n t r y a s a r i s k t o t h e n a t i o n s v e r y s o v e r e i g n t y We cannot agree that free trade with Great Britain has been any advantage to Ireland ; on the contrary, it has injured that country, and retarded its 126 L i s t N a t i o n a l S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 2 6 2 6 3 127 I b i d 4 1 4


progress in wealth, power, and civilization, beyond all estimate.....There is no civilized country in which there is less diversity of employment. Ireland is merely an outlying farm of England, cultivated merely to suit the trade with England, and not with a view to the best interests of the population; that is, such articles are cultivated as will be ar transportation to, and sell in England....So, free trade...has been a serious injury to the Southern States. 128 For a commodity exporter like the South or Ireland, free trade with Britain meant becoming the junior partner in a fundamentally unbalanced r elationship. For List and his American fellow travelers in the Whig Party, the South's enthusiasm for free trade meant that it had become the willing victim of commercial exploitation. Even the free farmers of the North were not spared this exploitatio n by England, as Northern commodities like wheat, timber, corn and coal were crowded out of Brit ish markets by Southern cotton Our average annual exports of domestic origin and home manufacture, from 1836 to 1840, inclusive, being five years, were $102,5 88,892, of which the exports of cotton were $64,238,225, leaving only $33,350,367 as the annual average export for this period of all other American products. The average annual portion of these exports to Great Britain and her dependencies, was $60,200,13 1, of which portion cotton made $45,560,647, leaving only $14,639,484 for all exports other than cotton. 129 Britain and Her Rivals "The wealth, intelligence, individual enterprise, and collective force of England...are immeasurably superior to those of the Muscovite Leviathan," opined one British author. However, 128 L i s t N a t i o n a l S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 1 9 5 9 6 129 C o l t o n T h e J u n i u s T r a c t s 3 9


The popular bugbear of this country for some years past has been Russia...this great mass of organized, or mechanized, humanity....The concentrated power of a military government, which can bring to bear, through the impulse of a single will, not impeded or deterred by the slightest domestic opposition, all the resources of an immense territory, and an almost innumerable population, against one or more of its neighbors, for the accomplishment of any aggressive purpose...must be...of dislike to mos t free nations. 130 Even at the height of its powers, those who governed, managed, and defended the British Empire considered its global preeminence to be a tenuous thing. If any other powers gained wealth or strength, it was thought, they would do so at Br itain's expense; even if British wealth and power continued to grow in absolute terms. While the British obviously did not have the same denigrating view of the United States' political about its growing geopolitical influence. Just as the Russian Empire was a competitor in Asia and the Near East, the United States was a potential military and commercial rival in the Atlantic and the Americas. The United States, like Russia, was consol idating and exploiting "all the resources of an immense territory, and an almost innumerable population." Given the constant friction between U.S. and British interests in the Western Hemisphere, it really is miraculous that the United States and Britain did not come to blows after 1815. westward, the British Empire's dealings with Texas did much to set the stage for Britain's later policy toward the United States. In the year s between Texan independence from 130 Anthony C. Sterling, Russia Under Nicolas the First (London: John Murray, 1841), Preface.


independence was of great interest to the British government. At a time when American expansionist sentiment was making British observers increasi ngly nervous, it was hoped that Texas would be a "buffer Anglo Saxon state" capable of checking U.S. expansion into the southwest and that Texas cotton would relieve British manufacturers of their dependence on cotton from the American South. 131 After the question of Texas was settled by annexation in 1845, British opposition to American expansion never again reached the level of intensity it had in the early 1840s. Instead, the main focus of British observers became the controve rsy over the future of American slavery, which the Mexican War had inflamed, and American political economy. 132 In spite of the their strong ethnic and c ultural ties to Britain, the United States had developed a strong "official sympathy" toward Russia during the Crimean War which grew largely out of a sense of shared interests. The United States had by the 1850s become Britain's greatest maritime rival a nd saw Russia's victimization by the British Empire as similar to their own in the previous generation. 133 Under the direction of Edouard de Stoeckl, the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington actively courted U.S. intervention and started an enormously su ccessful propaganda campaign which led numerous Americans to offer their services to the Tsar mainly privateers seeking letters of marque but also volunteer regiments of expert Kentucky riflemen. 134 A proposal by President Franklin Pierce and his Secretary of State William Marcy to mediate the 131 Adams, Great Britain and the American Civil War 13. 132 Ibid. 133 Woldman, Lincoln and the Russians 10. 134 Ibid. 10 11.


conflict fell through because America was seen as partial to Russia. The United States was the only major power openly supportive of Russia by the war's end, when Russia's defeat was all but inevitable and many former neutrals had entered the war on the Anglo French side. Having been without allies during the Crimean War and nurturing an imperial r ivalry with Great Britain, Russia needed an intact and assertive United States to maintain the new worldwide balance of power. Tsar Alexander II expressed his wish for the Union's early restoration "because the maintenance of its power is essential in the highest degree for the general equilibrium." 135 Much as America's policy toward Russia during the Crimean War had been influenced by her rivalry with Great Britain, so did the Russians plan their handling of American relations with an eye to Britain w h o w as seen by Stoeckl and by others in Russian service as the only power likely to gain by the breakup of the United States, since it meant the elimination of her most formidable rival at sea. 136 Because the United States had for years been the only power friend ly to Russia, and because only a strong United States could possibly match Russia's imperial rival Britain at sea, Russia was the only major European power that was not either hostile or indifferent to the Union's cause. The Russian government, in fact, d id not so much as receive the Confederate commissioner in St. Petersburg. One Tsarist paper declared that " convinced that the American nation can only find in the preservation of the Union the conditions of power and prosperity which she wishe s to see it enjoy." 137 It 135 Woldman, Lincoln and the Russians 130. 136 I b i d 85. 137 I b i d 1 2 6 3 4


may even be that the Russians did more than Lincoln or Seward themselves to head off diplo matic recognition of the Confed eracy by Britain and France. It was the Russians' rejection of Napoleon III's proposal for joint mediation by France, Britain and Russia that dissuaded Lord Russell from accepting it. As early as May 1861 the Russian government had granted U.S. warships the right to bring their captures into Russian ports, and in September 1863 Russian ships began arriving in Ne w York Harbor. One ship, the screw frigate Osilaba had been ordered to sail from Greece three months before. Less than a month later, the Russian Far East fleet sailed into San Francisco Bay. People in the North accepted the news joyously and supposed that Russia "was making common cause" with the United States as France had done in 1778. T h e reaction of New Yorkers to the Rus sians' arrival w a s o v e r w h e l m i n g l y f r i e n d l y a n d includ e d a ball that contemporary newspapers pronounced "the greatest ball ever given in this country." Commentators in periodicals like Harper's Weekly frankly admitted that America's momentary closeness to "the Russian monarchy" was only balance of power politics and t he boisterousness of the celebrations was a political gesture aimed at Britain and France, but they still invoked the idea that "Russia, like the United States, [was] a nation of the future" in support of closer cooperation. 138 B o t h w e r e f a i r l y y o u n g n a t i o n s t a t e s w i t h r o o m t o g r o w ; b o t h f e l t d i s a d v a n t a g e d i n t h e i n t e r n a t i o n a l a r e n a ; a n d b o t h f e l t t h e n e e d t o c h a l l e n g e B r i t i s h g l o b a l s u p r e m a c y 138 H a r p e r s W e e k l y O c t o b e r 1 7 1 8 6 3


F i n d i n g a P l a c e i n t h e B a l a n c e o f P o w e r Romantic nationalists who counted themselves among the F r e n c h liberal f a c t i o n a l s o saw the United States as a natural ally against Britain and brought these geopolitical considerations into the debate, argu ing that a divided United States would be unable to check Britain's commercial and imperial ambitions. The procurator in Douai, an important coal producing region in north eastern France, reported that public opinion in his district was against the idea "to make common cause with England to destroy a navy that could someday be her rival, for us an auxiliary." 139 One liberal paper announced sympathy for the North because a strong United Sta tes was the only power which conceivably could maintain the freedom of the seas against Great Britain, France's "one enemy in the world," and that the breakup of the Union must necessarily spell the end of "maritime equilibrium ." 140 E m p i r e R e d e f i n e d At stake in the American Civ il War was the question of the right of revolution, which had become extremely important by the start of the Polish Uprising in the winter of 1862 6 3. Russia opposed European intervention in the American Civil War out of a need to be consistent in her oppo sition to foreign intervention in domestic conflicts. France in particular was threatening intervention in the Polish crisis at the same time that she was offering to mediate the war between the states, so naturally the Russians would 139 P i n k n e y F r a n c e and the Civil War 106 0 7. 140 Ibid., 114 1 5. C o m p a r e F r i e d r i c h L i s t 480 : It is manifest, that as England surpasses immensely the other maritime powers, if not in the number of vessels, at least in naval skill, the other powers must of course unite in order to maintain an equilibrium. Every one has an interest in the maintenance and in the development of the naval power of the others."


have neither. 141 A qui d pro quo developed between the United States and Russia less than a year after Russia rejected French offers to mediate in the Civil War, Lincoln and Seward declined a similar offer to put pressure on Russia. I n t h e i r s h a r e d e n t h u s i a s m f o r t e r r i t o r i a l e x p a n s i o n R u s s i a a n d t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s w e r e m u c h a l i k e T h r o u g h o u t t h e n i n e t e e n t h a n d e a r l y e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r i e s R u s s i a n c u l t u r e a n d b o d i e s h a d a d v a n c e d s o u t h w a r d a n d e a s t w a r d i n t o t h e f o r m e r d o m a i n s o f s t e p p e n o m a d s w h o h a d s l o w l y b e e n s u b d u e d f r o m t h e t i m e o f I v a n t h e T e r r i b l e T h e p r o c e s s w h i c h i n a t w i s t o n f r e e l a b o r i n c l u d e d a c o m p r e h e n s i v e e f f o r t t o s e t t l e e t h n i c R u s s i a n s o n t h e f r o n t i e r r e s e m b l e d A m e r i c a n e x p a n s i o n b o t h i n s c o p e a n d i n t h e n a t u r e o f t h e c h a l l e n g e R u s s i a s o w n w i n n i n g o f t h e e a s t 142 V i s i o n a r i e s o n b o t h s i d e s i n c l u d i n g W i l l i a m S e w a r d p r e d i c t e d a m e e t i n g o f t h e s e t w o e m p i r e s i n t h e m a k i n g o n t h e s h o r e s o f t h e P a c i f i c O c e a n E v e n b e f o r e t h e C i v i l W a r F r i e d r i c h L i s t p r e d i c t e d a s e a c h a n g e i n t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y w h e r e t h e United S t a t e s R u s s i a o r b o t h w o u l d s e i z e t h e l e a d f r o m B r i t a i n i n g l o b a l p o w e r p o l i t i c s it may undoubtedly be painful to the English, greedy of supremacy, to see the continental nations eir manufacturing industry, strengthening their merchant marine and their naval power, seeking participation everywhere in the culture and colonization of barbarian and uncultivated countries, enjoying full commerce with the torrid zone, and thus reaping t heir rightful portion of the advantages which nature has bestowed on them....The very same causes, indeed, to which England owes her present elevation, will raise America, probably in the course of the next century, to a degree of industry, wealth, and pow er, which will place her as far above England, as England is now above Holland. 143 141 Woldman, Lincoln and the Russians 156 5 8. 142 C a r t e r V a u g h n F i n d l e y T h e T u r k s i n W o r l d H i s t o r y ( N e w Y o r k : O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s 2 0 0 5 ) 1 4 0 4 5 143 L i s t N a t i o n a l S y s t e m o f P o l i t i c a l E c o n o m y 4 8 7


N a t i o n a l Unification i n A l l B u t N a m e Many of the nationalisms and unification proj ects being pursued by the wartime federal government and contested by the warring parties were familiar to Europeans whose own nations were struggling with the very same questions. Considered along economic lines, the strategy behind t h e A m e r i c a n S y s t e m looks little differen t from th e strategy b y which German unification proceeded b e t w e e n 1 8 1 5 a n d 1 8 7 1 The United States' enthusiastic expansion into what List and others called "waste spaces" to the west was driven by the same sense of civilizing mission as the Russians' "winning of the east" in Inner Asia right down to the armed suppression of indigenous peoples who stood in their way. The s u c c e s s o f t h e United States' self imposed civilizing mission, while uniquely American, was perhaps the most universally h o p e d f o r o u t c o m e of political unification in the United State s. Millions of Europeans hopefully i n some cases, fearfully looked on as the world's oldest and greatest republic became, for the first time, a great power w i t h a n i m p o r t a n t p l a c e i n t h e w o r l d o r d e r Whatever the vantage point, however, the American Civil War was always seen in Europe for wha t it was the violent culmination of a t r u e national unification movement.


C O N C L U S I O N What I have termed the American War of Unification ended in victory for the Republican coalition of economic r o m a n t i c c i v i c a n d e t h n i c nationalists w h o s o u g h t c l o s e r i n t e g r a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e s e v e r a l s t a t e s a n d w h o i n 1 8 6 0 t o o k c o n t r o l o f t h e f e d e r a l g o v e r n m e n t in the c a u s e o f F r e e L a b o r The Free Labor ideology was almost universally excepted by Northern voters; it was a program of action for social justice; and it was a road to economic and territorial expansion. The old Jacksonian coalition w h i c h f o r s o l o n g h a d r e s i s t e d t h e e c o n o m i c r e f o r m s o f t h e N a t i o n a l R e p u b l i c a n s was irrevocably split by the United States' identity crisis after the Mexican War. With i ts mantra of "the people versus the interests," the Old Republican philosophy found some acceptance in the Radical clique of the Republican Party, who saw in the Union a way to defeat those interests O n t h e o t h e r h a n d m a n y m o r e J a c k s o n i a n s f e l l i n w i t h t h e S o u t h a n d targeted t h e U n i o n i t s e l f a s p a r t o f t h e p r o b l e m T h r o u g h a c o m b i n a t i o n o f a t t r i t i o n a n d m i l i t a r y d e f e a t t h e m o s t c r e d i b l e r e s i s t a n c e t o w h a t b e c a m e t h e g o v e r n i n g i d e o l o g y o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s g a v e w a y r e m a i n i n g i n d i s a r r a y f o r m o r e t h a n a d e c a d e a f t e r w a r d O b v i o u s l y t h e r e i s m o r e t h a n o n e p a t h t o m o d e r n i t y a n d R i c h a r d B e n s e l s f o r m u l a i c a p p r o a c h t o t h e s t u d y o f s t a t e m a k i n g m a y i n f a c t b e a v a i n s e a r c h f o r a s y s t e m w h e r e n o s y s t e m e x i s t s N e v e r t h e l e s s Bensel has his finger on something t he National Republicans, in their push for a more modern United States, bega n to take on many of the same ideas as European conservatives; including their rejection of the right of secession as "insurrectionary." As the dominant, conservative wing of the political coalition that


won the war, the National Republicans established t his American variation on civic nationalism as a national ethos. Instead of defending the prerogatives of a king or emperor, as the Russian, German or French conservatives did, they upheld the federal government as an unimp eachably legitimate authority. S i m u l t a n e o u s l y t h e y u s e d t h e p o w e r o f t h e s t a t e t h e y c r e a t e d t o s u p p r e s s o p p o s i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s a n d t o Bensel's neatly constructed p r o c e d u r e for national unification and modernization a loaded term, to be sure, but also a useful one f its both phenomena. U p o n c a r e f u l s t u d y i t s e e m s t h a t t o s p e a k o f A m e r i c a n U n i f i c a t i o n o r t h e A m e r i c a n W a r o f U n i f i c a t i o n i s a t l e a s t a s a c c u r a t e a s t o s p e a k o f t h e A m e r i c a n C i v i l W a r


APPENDIX Figure 1 "The Irrepressible Conflict. o r the Republican Barge in Danger." Louis Maurer satirizes the fusionist Republican Party's inner tensions by making Gideon Welles a nd Horace Greeley attempt to drown William Seward. Brother Jonathan advises them to heave their black passenger out rather than their "pilot." One passenger opines: "If it had only been built in two sections instead of one we might be saved."


Figure 2 An 1840 Whig Party engraving depicts William Henry Harrison in front of the stereotypical log cabin of a freeholder. The rustic imagery of the Harrison campaign served a dual purpose of recalling his military service and of strengthening his appeal to l abor particularly well to do farmers in the west.


Figure 3 Abraham Lincoln's campaign newspaper, The Rail Splitter Compare the rustic, middle western imagery to the earlier Harrison campaign.


Figure 4 The extent of alcohol prohibition in 1855 re center of gravity.


Figure 5 "The Political Quadrille," an 1860 Louis Maurer cartoon which nicely illustrates the campaigns' embrace of identity politics. Clockwise from the upper left: John C. Breckinridge esc orts a caricature of the outgoing president James Buchanan (represented here as a satyr, a classical symbol of drunkenness and sexual abandon); Abraham Lincoln dances with a smiling black woman, identifying him as a so called Black Republican; Douglas cons orts with the shabby, diminutive, ape like Irishman of the urban North; John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party idly dances with an Indian, perhaps to show that his party has nothing to do. At the center, Dred Scott is depicted as physically infantile a common attitude for black cartoon characters at the time.


F i g u r e 6 "Argument s of the Chivalry, 1856. A quote from Henry Ward Beecher heads the page: "The symbol of the North is the pen; the symbol of the South is the bludgeon." The caning of Charles Sumner inflamed Northern perceptions of Southern barbarity and lawlessness.


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