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America The Beautiful? - Part One

Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light...From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli...the home of the brave?...the land of the free?

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL?

(Part One)

by Joe Keenan

In April 1941 the German Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade for six days running. In April 1999, flying with British and American allies, it was back again in the skies of Yugoslavia, bombing Belgrade again.

In 1941 warriors of the ethnic groups surrounding Serbia flocked to the crooked and broken cross. The Ustashe movement was installed by the Nazis to govern Croatia and immediately set up extermination camps and immediately filled those camps with Jews and Serbs.

In 1943 the 23rd Division of the Waffen-SS was formed by Croatian and Bosnian Muslim volunteers.

In 1944 the 21st Division of the Waffen-SS, composed of Albanian Muslims, was raised and sent into action in Kosovo. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs were killed in, or expelled from, the territory of "Greater Albania".

Ethnic cleanliness then ranked nigh on to godliness. But Hitler and Mussolini went to the devil in the following year and took "Greater Albania" down with them. And now NATO, lacking any purpose that could sustain the arms industries of the USA and Britain which Communism's collapse and Russia's subsequent disintegration briefly threatened to undermine, has declared itself heir to Fascism's Balkan project.

The propaganda onslaught accompanying NATO's blitzkrieg against Yugoslavia has been breathtaking: Fascism has returned to Europe under the banner of an Anti-Nazi League. A banner that is held aloft by born-again veterans of the anti-war, anti-imperialist and anti-nuclear movements of the 1960s and 70s.

Their language was then, and today remains, very much in debt to psychobabble. The world they are constructing (or de-, or re-, constructing) soundbite by soundbite in the rubble of a devastated Yugoslavia, is a Freudian one: it is polymorphously perverse.

CND is gone, but its members and supporters are as vigorous as ever. Pacifism rules the skies; but, look, its raining cluster bombs and cruise missiles. CND is gone, but its members and supporters are vigorous and very, very, busy. And today all their energies are nuclear. Only their uranium is depleted.

ANDY HARDY GOES TO WAR

While America and Britain were busy over Belgrade and Pristina, American sentiment was diverted by an incident in Littleton, Colorado. Two teenage schoolchildren bombed their school, shot and killed their schoolmates, and suicided out of it.

Shades of Busby Berkeley?—"Oh Andy, they say we're too young to sing and dance professionally." "I know what we'll do...we'll put on the show in Mr. Clodhopper's barn...we'll show those stuffy grown-ups"—The image is the world, and the world is polymorphously perverse. While the adult professionals did business, risking bumps and bruises at 15,000 feet, teenage amateurs put on a more personally risky, more immediately and obviously bloody show in the old home town.

The immediate reaction in Britain and America to the Colorado schoolyard massacre was to blame it on the well-known, much remarked upon but little understood, "gun culture" that runs all the way through American society. Blame for that culture (or praise) is always laid at the door of the American constitution, which proclaims the right of every citizen to bear arms. And it is generally said to derive from a lasting impression of the sterling work done by the citizen militias in the War of Independence.

But the citizen militias were of little military consequence in the Revolution: the British were defeated by the professional army that Washington forged in the valley.

The impulse behind the second constitutional amendment (part of the Bill of Rights which was incorporated into the constitution as the first ten amendments) was an oligarchical one which American men of property inherited from English political thought as it had developed from the 17th through the 18th centuries (see Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1967). Their concern was to avoid recourse to a standing army which they feared might become allied to, and promote the interests of, the democracy, the mob (English opposition political theorists feared that a standing army might make either the king or the democracy overwhelmingly powerful, but America had done away with monarchy).

And so; "Amendment II, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Constitution of the United States was the property of an oligarchy. It still is. And the "gun culture" of the United States has throughout the state's existence been promoted by that oligarchy, which has had good reasons to want an armed citizenry at its beck and call.

The Oligarchy In Year One

In January 1776 Tom Paine published Common Sense, in which he argued that independent America should be governed, at both state and federal level, by unicameral assemblies elected annually under a broader franchise than then existed, with a President as head of state. This was a proposal for a restricted democratic constitution that could only become less restricted with time.

John Adams (President 1797 - 1801) was not impressed. Preferring an extended oligarchy (a 'polity' out of Aristotle) which would become more restricted with time he had described democracy as "...the most ignoble, unjust and detestable form of government", declaring that the country should be ruled by "...the rich, the well-born and the able". Adams described Paine as a "star of disaster", saying that the politics of Common Sense stemmed either from "honest ignorance or foolish superstition on the one hand or from willful sophistry and knavish hypocrisy on the other".

In Thoughts on Government Adams sketched out a scheme of bicameral government founded on separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary. That scheme, which safeguarded the dominance of the oligarchy, was the basis of the Constitution which was ultimately put in place.

The United States of America emerged in the eighteenth century as an oligarchy. It developed through all the excitements of the nineteenth with the oligarchy securely in place, largely because of the state and people's experience of slavery and their genocidal relations with the Native American population.

Uncle Tom's Patron

The third President of the United States (1801 - 09) was Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who was a very interesting man; an oligarch, the author of the Declaration of Independence, pioneer of the separation of Church and State, a Francophile and a racist.

In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson wrote, in a passage which, characterising both a society and a century of its political life, is well worth quoting at length:-

".... It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. - To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. - Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of Superior beauty, is thought worthy of attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold than the whites. Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less sleep. A black after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation.

"We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them indeed have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad.

"The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never saw even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honour to the heart than the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and show how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his style is easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning: yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own colour who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived and particularly with the epistolary class, in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enrol him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life. We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America. The two sexes were confined in separate apartments, because to raise a child cost the master more than to buy one. Cato, for a very restricted indulgence to his slaves in this particular, took from them a certain price. But in this country the slaves multiply as fast as the free inhabitants. Their situation and manners place the commerce between the two sexes almost without restraint. The same Cato, on a principle of oeconomy, always sold his sick and superannuated slaves. He gives it as a standing precept to a master visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old wagons, old tools, old and diseased servants, and every thing else become useless...The American slaves cannot enumerate this among the injuries and insults they receive. It was the common practice to expose in the island Esculapius, in the Tyber, diseased slaves, whose cure was like to become tedious. The emperor Claudius, by an edict, gave freedom to such of them as should recover, and first declared that if any person chose to kill rather than expose them, it should be deemed homicide. The exposing them is a crime of which no instance has existed with us; and were it to be followed by death, it would be punished capitally. We are told of a certain Vedius Pollio, who, in the presence of Augustus, would have given a slave as food to his fish, for having broken a glass. With the Romans, the regular method of taking the evidence of their slaves was under torture. Here it has been thought better never to resort to their evidence. When a master was murdered, all his slaves, in the same house, or within hearing, were condemned to death. Here punishment falls on the guilty only, and as precise proof is required against him as against a freeman. Yet notwithstanding these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled too in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to their masters' children. Epictetus, Terence, and Phaedrus, were slaves. But they were of the race of whites. It is not their condition then, but nature, which has produced the distinction. Whether further observation will or will not verify the conjecture, that nature has been less bountiful to them in the endowments of the head, I believe that in those of the heart she will be found to have done them justice. That disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. The man, in whose favour no laws of property exist, probably feels himself less bound to respect those made in favour of others. When arguing for ourselves, we lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience: and it is a problem which I give to the master to solve, whether the religious precepts against the violation of property were not framed for him as well as his slave? And whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one, who has taken all from him, as he may slay one who would slay him? That a change in the relations in which a man is placed should change his ideas of moral right or wrong, is neither new, nor peculiar to the colour of the blacks. Homer tells us it was so 2600 years ago.

Jove fix'd it certain, that whatever day
Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away.

"But the slaves of which Homer speaks were whites. Notwithstanding these considerations which must weaken their respect for the laws of property, we find among them numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude and unshaken fidelity. The opinion, that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the anatomical knife, to optical classes, to analysis by fire, or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the Senses; where the conditions of its existence are various and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them. To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different Species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them?

"This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question 'What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.

"The particular customs and manners that may happen to be received in that state?

"It is difficult to determine on the standard by which the manners of a nation may be tried, whether catholic, or particular. It is more difficult for a native to bring to that standard the manners of his own nation, familiarized to him by habit. There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious pecularities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. And with what execration should the statesman be loaded, who, permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labour for another; in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavours to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest. - But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one's mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation."

So, blacks are fitted by a very detailed racial inferiority to be slaves and, though slavery is an affront to God and degrading to the master race, it can only be ended by transporting the inferior race elsewhere. "Elsewhere" was back to Africa (when any particular place in Africa was mentioned it was Liberia), or somewhere in Central or South America. Panama was often mentioned.

Those sentiments dominated thought and policy on slavery in the United States to the Civil War and beyond, when slaves were freed to become share-croppers and removed behind a wall of segregation.

Another Hypocritical Racist President

The fourth President of the United States was James Madison (1809 - 17) who had been Jefferson's colleague in the Virginia state legislature where together they had secured a separation of Church and State on terms that were later adopted nationally. On the matter of slavery they were again as one, each a hypocrite, each a racist red in tooth and claw.

Like Jefferson, Madison spoke of slavery as an evil which should be abolished but, again like Jefferson, he could not countenance the thought of former-slaves left at large to roam in the "Land of the Free" (and into the homes of free white men, where free white women were freely available). In his Memorandum on an African Colony for Freed Slaves, Madison wrote:-

"Without enquiring into the practicability or the most proper means of establishing a Settlement of freed blacks on the Coast of Africa, it may be remarked as one motive to the benevolent experiment that if such an asylum was provided, it might prove a great encouragement to manumission in the Southern parts of the U. S. and even afford the best hope yet presented of putting an end to the slavery in which not less than 600,000 unhappy negroes are now involved.

"In all the Southern States of N. America, the laws permit masters, under certain precautions to manumit their slaves. But the continuance of such a permission in some of the States is rendered precarious by the ill effects suffered from freemen who retain the vices and habits of slaves. The same consideration becomes an objection with many humane masters agst. an exertion of their legal right of freeing their slaves. It is found in fact that neither the good of the Society, nor the happiness of the individuals restored to freedom is promoted by such a change in their condition.

"In order to render this change eligible as well to the Society as to the slaves . . . should result from the act of manumission. This is rendered impossible by the prejudices of the Whites, prejudices which . . . must be considered as permanent and insuperable.

"It only remains then that some proper external receptacle be provided for the slaves who obtain their liberty."

During the Missouri Crisis of 1819-1821, Madison wrote:-

"That it ought, like remedies for other deeprooted and wide-spread evils, to be gradual, is so obvious that there seems to be no difference of opinion on that point.

"To be equitable & satisfactory, the consent of both the Master & the slave should be obtained. That of the Master will require a provision in the plan for compensating a loss of what he held as property guarantied by the laws, and recognised by the Constitution. That of the slave, requires that his condition in a state of freedom, be preferable in his own estimation, to his actual one in a state of bondage.

"To be consistent with the existing and probably unalterable prejudices in the U. S. the freed blacks ought to be permanently removed beyond the region occupied or allotted to a White population.

"The views of the Society are limited to the case of blacks already free, or who may be gratuitously emancipated. To provide a commensurate remedy for the evil, the plan must be extended to the great Mass of blacks, and must embrace a fund sufficient to induce the Master as well as the slave to concur in it."

He further suggested that funds to compensate owners and pay for the transportation of freed slaves out of the country could be raised by the sale of 200 million acres of land in the as yet unsettled West, at three dollars an acre. That is to say; it would be an expensive business, but never mind, the Indian tribes would pay for it.

Harriet Martineau (1802-76) was an English writer of Hugenot descent who moved through her family's unitarianism to a convinced agnosticism. She wrote a novel (The Hour and the Man) about Toussaint L'Ouverture and translated Comte. In the 1830s she visited the United States, calling in along the way on James Madison. Her impression of his conversation is contained in Society in America. She got the measure of the man and no mistake:-

"He talked more on the subject of slavery than on any other, acknowledging, without limitation or hesitation, all the evils with which it has ever been charged. He told me the black population increases far faster than the white; and that the licentiousness only stops short of the destruction of the race; every slave girl being expected to be a mother by the time she is fifteen. He assumed from this, I cannot make out why, that the negroes must go somewhere, and pointed out how the free states discourage the settlement of blacks; how Canada disagrees with them; how Hayti shuts them out; so that Africa is their only refuge. He did not assign any reason they should not remain where they are when freed...He had parted with some of his best land to feed the increasing numbers [of Madison's own slave population], and yet been obliged to sell a dozen of his slaves the preceding week. He observed the whole Bible is against negro slavery; but the clergy do not preach this, and the people do not see it. ... He accounted for his selling his slaves by mentioning their horror of going to Liberia, which he admitted to be prevalent among the blacks, and which appears to me decisive as to the unnaturalness of the scheme."

In 1804, William Thornton dedicated a pamphlet to James Madison which proposed the formation of a Society to raise funds for settling former slaves somewhere, anywhere, far away. It resulted in the establishment of the American Colonization Society. At some time before his death in 1836 Madison became its president. I don't know just when that was but it was presumably after he wrote this letter to its fifteenth anniversary meeting in 1832:-

"I may observe, in brief, that the society had always my good wishes, though with hopes of its success less sanguine than were entertained by others, found to be better judges; and that I feel the greatest pleasure at the progress already by made the society, and the encouragement to encounter remaining difficulties,...Many circumstances, at the present moment, seem to concur in brightening the prospects of the society, and cherishing the hope that the time will come, when the dreadful calamity which has long afflicted our country and filled so many with despair, will be gradually removed, and by means consistent with justice, peace and the general satisfaction: thus giving to our country the full enjoyment of the blessings of liberty, and to the world the full benefit of its example. I never considered the main difficulty of the great work as lying in the deficiency of emancipations, but in an inadequacy of the asylums for a growing mass of population, and in the great expense in removing it to its new home.

"Sincerely wishing an increasing success to the labours of the Society, I pray you to be assured of my esteem, and to accept my friendly salutations."

It was not at all unusual for slave owners who were embarrassed by the peculiar institution to make arrangements in their wills to have the anomalies freed when death had set their owner free. James Madison did nothing of the sort.

The Great Emancipator?

Abraham Lincoln presided over a Civil War which was fought on the issue of "state's rights", to establish the dominance within the American oligarchy of Northern, industrial, capital over Southern agricultural capital. However important the issue of slavery now appears, at the time it was subordinate to the overwhelming question of which interest within the oligarchy, industrial or agricultural, would determine the economic policy of the United States. The issue was the Union, and the terms of the Union. Lincoln stated (I cannot remember where and cannot now find the quotation to cite it in a properly academic fashion, but nevertheless) that his concern was to preserve the Union, and that if he could best preserve it by freeing all slaves or some slaves or no slaves he would preserve it as howsoever required.

During a speech in Peoria in 1854 he said:-

"My first impulse would be to free all slaves and send them to Liberia...Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? Our own feelings would not admit of it, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites would not" (quoted in Gore Vidal, Essays 1952 - 1992, New York, 1993, p.682).

His general intention was to settle freed slaves in Central America (Panama again, or wherever). He told a group of blacks:-

"Why should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least, why we should be separated" (Gore Vidal, p.667).

In his 2nd Annual Message to Congress of December 1st, 1862, Lincoln said:-

"I cannot make it better known than it is, that I strongly favour colonization."

But Lincoln's preference for colonization can be made better known.

There was a "Missouri Compromise" dating from the time of the Louisiana Purchase (1803) to the effect that slavery would be excluded from all parts of the purchased lands north of the line of latitutude 36 30, but would be permitted in Missouri. In 1857 the Supreme Court, in the case of Dred Scott, a slave who was claiming freedom through the courts, declared that Congress had never had any right under the constitution to pass or enforce the compromise and that slavery was legal in all states without exception.

Lincoln argued this question with Senator (and judge) Stephen Douglas. In the course of the debate he said:-

"...Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the thought of the mixing blood by the white and black races: agreed for once—a thousand times agreed. There are white men enough to marry all the white women, and black men enough to marry all the black women; and so let them be married. On this point we fully agree with the Judge; and when he shall show that his policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation than ours we shall drop ours, and adopt his. Let us see. In 1850 there were in the United States, 405,751, mulattoes. Very few of these are the offspring of whites and free blacks; nearly all have sprung from black slaves and white masters. A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation but as all immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas. That is at least one self-evident truth. A few free colored persons may get into the free States, in any event; but their number is too insignificant to amount to much in the way of mixing blood. In 1850 there were in the free states, 56,649 mulattoes; but for the most part they were not born there—they came from the slave States, ready made up. In the same year the slave States had 348,874 mulattoes all of home production. The proportion of free mulattoes to free blacks—the only colored classes in the free states—is much greater in the slave than in the free states. It is worthy of note too, that among the free states those which make the colored man the nearest to equal the white, have, proportionally the fewest mulattoes the least of amalgamation. In New Hampshire, the State which goes farthest towards equality between the races, there are just 184 Mulattoes while there are in Virginia—how many do you think? 79,775, being 23,126 more than in all the free States together.

"These statistics show that slavery is the greatest source of amalgamation; and next to it, not the elevation, but the degeneration of the free blacks. Yet Judge Douglas dreads the slightest restraints on the spread of slavery, and the slightest human recognition of the negro, as tending horribly to amalgamation.

"This very Dred Scott case affords a strong test as to which party most favors amalgamation, the Republicans or the dear union-saving Democracy. Dred Scott, his wife and two daughters were all involved in the suit. We desired the court to have held that they were citizens so far at least as to entitle them to a hearing as to whether they were free or not; and then, also, that they were in fact and in law really free. Could we have had our way, the chances of these black girls, ever mixing their blood with that of white people, would have been diminished at least to the extent that it could not have been without their consent. But Judge Douglas is delighted to have them decided to be slaves, and not human enough to have a hearing, even if they were free, and thus left subject to the forced concubinage of their masters, and liable to become the mothers of mulattoes in spite of themselves—the very state of case that produces nine tenths of all the mulattoes—all the mixing of blood in the nation.

"Of course, I state this case as an illustration only, not meaning to say or intimate that the master of Dred Scott and his family, or any more than a per centage of masters generally, are inclined to exercise this particular power which they hold over their female slaves.

"I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation. I have no right to say all the members of the Republican party are in favor of this, nor to say that as a party they are in favor of it. There is nothing in their platform directly on the subject. But I can say a very large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief plank in their platform - opposition to the spread of slavery - is most favorable to that separation.

"Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present only favor or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise is a difficult one; but "when there is a will there is a way;" and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be. The children of Israel, to such numbers as to include four hundred thousand fighting men, went out of Egyptian bondage in a body.

"How differently the respective courses of the Democratic and Republican parties incidentally bear on the question of forming a will—a public sentiment—for colonization, is easy to see. The Republicans inculcate, with whatever of ability they can, that the negro is a man; that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and that the field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the wrong of his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him; compliment themselves as Union-savers for doing so; and call the indefinite outspreading of his bondage "a sacred right of self-government."

"The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle; and it will be ever hard to find many men who will send a slave to Liberia, and pay his passage while they can send him to a new country, Kansas for instance, and sell him for fifteen hundred dollars, and the rise."

Between Lincoln, and Jefferson and Madison, there is not a scintilla of difference. They all of them believed that the institution of slavery was an abomination. And they all of them believed that slaves could only be freed so long as they could then, having been freed, be expelled from the country whose wealth they had built. But Lincoln at least, give him his due, freed the slaves...

On 22nd September 1862 Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. This was immediately following the Union "victory" at Antietam. On 1 December 1862 "he put forward, not for the first time, proposals for gradual, compensated emancipation and for the colonization overseas of the freed blacks" (The Penguin History of the United States of America, Hugh Brogan, 1985, p.341).

On New Year's Day, 1863, the Preliminary Proclamation became final. No arrangements were made to ship the former slaves off to Liberia or Panama or whatever but nonetheless slavery was declared to be illegal in those rebellious Confederate states which had not yet been conquered by the North (Sherman's march to the sea was still a year or so away). Slavery was not abolished in the Northern states.

And so, when Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatax one of the two was legally in possession of slaves. It wasn't Lee! Robert E. Lee had freed his slaves long since. Grant had not freed his.

The 13th amendment was carried after Lincoln's assassination but he had made his support for it clear before his death. What he would have done thereafter with the newly freed slaves has to be a matter of conjecture. It is not unreasonable to suppose that he would have had them rounded up and transported, to Liberia or Panama, or anywhere out of the reach of white women.

While America held slaves it was essential that every free white man be armed. Militia be damned. The right to bear arms then was, and remains, the crucial requirement for keeping the niggers down.

As was an armed citizenry crucial to America's dealings with enslaved, and then freed, blacks, so was it crucial to America's expropriation of, its genocidal relations with, the native Indian tribes on whose graves, in whose land, the "land of the free" was freely built.

Red Cloud of the Oglala Teton Sioux said it:-

"They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it."

Independent America, the United States, did it.


Continued in Part Two

Return to America The Beautiful (Series contents)

 

Contents

Home Page

Reason And Authority

Peter Abelard And Bernard Of Clairvaux

Deliver Us From Evil

What's God Got To Do With It?

The Lord Thy God Is A Jealous God

In A Concluding Homage To Sextus Empiricus…

Of Prods, And Gods, And Dancing Girls; And Censorship, And Things

Coleridge And The End Of Christian Economics

Innocent's Ward—The Wonder Of The World

A Sufficiency Of Grace

Beware The Ides Of March!?

Suspensions Of Disbelief

Hugh Shapland Swinny—Nationalism And Anti-Theology In Ireland At The Start Of The Twentieth Century

The Wage The Faithful Earn

An Overview Of Slavery In The Southern United States

The Darwin Controversy

America The Beautiful?

Puritanism And The Theatre

Meet the editorial staff of the Heresiarch

Index To Past Issues

Athol Books Web

Athol Books HomePage

Aubane Historical Society

Athol Books Secure Sales

Labour & Trade Union Review