[Rushtalk] An Historian Shills for the Warfare State

Tom Matiska tom.matiska at att.net
Thu Mar 24 08:11:33 MDT 2016

Gee...... do I detect a slight anti North bias in this twisted misunderstanding of the war against slavery?   Everything the author laments about reconstruction he can thank Booth for.  Lincoln's plans for a more benevolent reconstruction died when Booth pulled the trigger.  Tom
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Carl Spitzer <lynux at keepandbeararms.com> wrote:

>               An Historian Shills for the Warfare State
>                         by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
>                        by Thomas J. DiLorenzo 
>In a May 4 Washington Post article entitled "Lessons for Iraq from
>Gettysburg," Post writer David Ignatius reports on how Princeton
>University historian James McPherson informed a "discussion group
>sponsored by the secretary of defense" about "how to rebuild societies,"
>drawing his lessons from the period of "Reconstruction" in America (1866
>—1877). McPherson supposedly told the Defense Department bureaucrats, as
>they toured the Gettysburg battlefield, that there were "intriguing
>parallels between postwar Iraq and the postwar South." Like so much of
>what passes for "Civil War history," such "parallels" are based
>primarily on lies, myths, and nineteenth-century Republican Party
>The Northern army killed some 300,000 southern men — one out of four of
>military age; bombed entire cities and burned others to the ground; and
>generally pillaged and plundered the entire region, carrying off tens of
>millions of dollars in private property. Homes, farms, and businesses in
>huge areas of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas were put to the
>torch, and gang rape was not uncommon in the Union Army. The entire
>southern economy was destroyed, and would take more than a century to
>After the war, there was a military occupation run by the Republican
>Party, which would hold a monopoly of power in the federal government
>for the succeeding several decades. The "Grand Old Party," as it
>shamelessly and immodestly calls itself, used that monopoly of power to
>continue the pillaging and plundering of the South for more than a
>decade after the war by imposing punitive taxes on southerners,
>providing very little public services in return, with untold millions
>being confiscated by Republican Party hacks who swarmed over the region
>("carpetbaggers") and ran the state and local governments. Little was
>done for the ex-slaves, despite all the empty rhetoric about "40 acres
>and a mule." Why would the Republican Party, the Party of Big Business,
>use the powers of government to help the ex-slaves when it could use
>that power to help itself instead?
>Southerners, only five percent of whom had ever owned slaves, naturally
>objected to being plundered by an occupying army for an entire decade
>after their country had been destroyed by that same army. The "lesson
>for Iraq" in all of this, according to James McPherson, is that
>southerners who opposed being abused and exploited in this manner should
>be thought of as "an insurgency," just today's Arab terrorists, led by
>Osama bin Laden, are. The grandchildren and great grandchildren of
>Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Randolph, James
>Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Marshall, and other prominent southerners
>are apparently no different from today's terrorists according to
>McPherson, as reported by David Ignatius. 
>The Republican Party, which Ignatius equates with "the Union," was
>supposedly "unprepared" for southern opposition to its plundering spree.
>Consequently, the "army of occupation was too small . . . " Lesson
>Number Two, courtesy of McPherson, is therefore to send more troops to
>Iraq, perhaps even by instituting a new Lincolnian conscription law.
>(Even if McPherson does not personally endorse conscription, such talk
>on his part encourages those who do, such as the Defense Department
>bureaucrats whom he lectured to in Gettysburg). 
>Watching the Fox News Channel or listening to the daily pronouncements
>from the White House or the Rush Limbaugh Show (which are basically one
>and the same), one "learns" that despite all outward appearances, things
>are going pretty well in Iraq these days. McPherson drew another
>parallel to the South of the late 1860s in his Gettysburg talk. Ignatius
>quotes him as saying: "In 1870 things looked pretty good — if not rosy,
>at least optimistic." Why is this? According to Ignatius, it is because
>Northern carpetbaggers were succeeding at effectively stealing millions
>of acres of southern land by first imposing punitive, unpayable property
>taxes on it, forcing the owners to sell the land to them at fire sale
>prices. Of course, Ignatius doesn't put it quite that way. He
>euphemistically writes: "Northerners were investing in what they
>believed would be a new South." 
>But the Documentary History of Reconstruction, paints a very different
>picture of the "success" of Reconstruction as of 1870. For example, it
>notes that "Never had a completer ruin fallen upon any city than fell
>upon Charleston." By 1870, the Documentary History notes, the entire
>Tennessee Valley consisted "for the most part of plantations in a state
>of semi-ruin," with many others "of which the ruin is . . . total and
>complete. The trail of war is visible throughout the valley and burnt up
>[cotton] gin houses, ruined bridges, mills, and factories . . . and
>large tracts of once cultivated land stripped of every vestige of
>In Virginia, "from Harper's Ferry to New Market . . . the country was
>almost a desert . . . . The barns were all burned; a great many of the
>private dwellings were burned; chimneys standing without houses, and
>houses standing without roofs." In North Georgia there was "a degree of
>destitution that would draw pity from a stone." 
>To James McPherson such scenes are "if not rosy," at least "optimistic."
>As Bill Clinton might say, it all depends on what the meaning of "rosy"
>Ignatius also quotes McPherson as saying that "the insurgency" of the
>1860s was so "potent" that it "staged bloody riots in Memphis and New
>Orleans." The implication is that there was complete lawlessness in the
>South, a "matrix of lawlessness," as Ignatius says. 
>Like so much "Civil War history" that is spouted by McPherson and most
>other "mainstream" court historians, this is simply more
>nineteenth-century Republican Party propaganda passed off as truth. As
>Ludwell Johnson, professor emeritus of history at William and Mary
>College, documents in North and South: The American Iliad, 1848—1877,
>there was a riot in Memphis during Reconstruction, but the main
>protagonists did not include ex-Confederates (McPherson's "insurgents").
>Instead, it was primarily a conflict between blacks and recent Irish
>immigrants. Under the military dictatorship that was established in
>Memphis by the Republican Party, all ex-Confederates were evicted from
>public offices. In their place were Irish immigrants. The mayor, most
>aldermen, and 90 percent of the Memphis police force were Irish,
>according to Johnson, who explains the genesis of the riot (p. 220):
>        Competition for jobs between Irish and blacks was a continual
>        source of friction and produced numerous fights. Another source
>        of hostility was the garrison of 4000 Negro troops, whose camps
>        became a focus of crime. The soldiers themselves, when drunk,
>        occasionally robbed shops and individuals, pushed whites off the
>        sidewalk into the mud, and so forth. Some Memphians suspected
>        that Stanton employed Negro garrisons in hopes of provoking
>        violence that he could use to political advantage. As early as
>        the fall of 1865, General Grant had warned that the use of black
>        occupation troops would lead to trouble. 
>The riot commenced after a street brawl during which "a shot was fired,
>by whom no one knows." After that, there was "an attack by police and
>laboring-class whites, apparently mainly Irish, on the black
>This is remarkably similar to the scene of the New York City draft riots
>of 1863. Indeed, as Johnson correctly points out: "Hitherto urban race
>riots had been a Northern phenomenon. Between 1832 and 1849, for
>instance, Philadelphia alone experienced five major anti-Negro
>Disturbances, and, of course, there was the New York riot of 1863 . . ."
>Johnson then gets to the heart of the matter with regard to the effects
>of the Republican Party's Reconstruction propaganda which is so
>faithfully repeated by today's court historians, such as James
>McPherson: "Although these occurrences were not taken as conclusive
>evidence of the incurable depravity of Northern society, the Memphis and
>New Orleans riots [the latter of which was ended by the actions taken by
>former Confederate General James Longstreet] and other incidents, real
>or fabricated, were cited by Republicans as revealing a continuing
>rebellion and the utter failure of [President Andrew] Johnson's system
>of Reconstruction."
>The parallels between the Memphis riot and the 1863 New York City draft
>riots are in fact remarkable. As Iver Bernstein wrote in The New York
>City Draft Riots (p. 120): "In April 1863 longshoremen's attempts to
>enforce a standard wage rate and an ‘all-white' rule on the docks led to
>a protracted binge of racial violence . . . . For three days mobs of
>Irish longshoremen beat up black men found working along the docks and
>fought Metropolitan Police who attempted to save several blacks who
>defended themselves against lynching."
>Ignoring real history and relying exclusively on the nineteenth-century
>Republican Party propaganda line, McPherson informed his Gettysburg
>audience that conflicts such as the Memphis riot of the 1860s were
>analogous to "the Sunni-Shiite divide that has poisoned postwar Iraq." 
>McPherson further informed his audience of bureaucrats that
>Reconstruction's purportedly noble objective of trying to "remake the
>South into a version of New England" "suffered" from "haphazard tactics"
>which were the source of the policy's ultimate failure. There is a grain
>of truth to this statement. New Englanders always thought of themselves
>as "God's Chosen People." Moreover, they also believed it was their duty
>to force all others to become like them, or they would burn in hell.
>That is what made a Northerner a "Yankee": the willingness to use force
>— even mass killing — to remake society in his image. 
>The phony part of McPherson's statement is the insinuation that New
>England was some kind of egalitarian Nirvana, and that the Republican
>Party rhetoric of "land reform" (along the lines of what occurred later
>in history in most countries that were taken over by communist
>insurgents) could turn the South into a "version of New England." Even
>if such a communistic fantasy were achieved it would not have turned the
>South into New England, for New England was anything but egalitarian —
>especially when it came to its small black population. 
>As Leon Litwack wrote in North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States,
>1790—1860 (p. 97), "While statutes and customs circumscribed the Negro's
>political and judicial rights [throughout the Northern states],
>extralegal codes — enforced by public opinion — relegated him to a
>position of social inferiority and divided northern society into
>‘Brahmins and Pariahs.'" Furthermore, "In virtually every phase of
>existence, Negroes found themselves systematically separated from
>In Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780
>—1860, Joanne Pope Melish of Brown University writes that even though
>slavery was finally ended in New England by 1857, most of the New
>England slaves were not freed but sold to southern plantation owners.
>New Englanders then spent decades doing everything imaginable to
>eradicate all black people from their midst. This included "targeting
>people of color from ‘warning out' as undesirables under the legal
>settlement laws; taxing their presence; advocating their wholesale
>transportation to Africa . . . ; and finally, conducting terroristic,
>armed raids on urban black communities and the institutions that served
>them," Ku Klux Klan style. 
>New England blacks were even precluded from being buried in the same
>cemeteries as whites, and in some cases black corpses were dug up and
>removed from "white" cemeteries. "New England clerics led widespread
>efforts to raise funds" for the purpose of shipping all free blacks to
>Africa (p. 193). In antebellum New England there was often a "crescendo
>of mob violence against people of color," writes Professor Melish, which
>included "assaulting their communities, burning down their homes, and
>attacking their advocates" (p. 199). There were dozens of such riots
>throughout the New England states during the antebellum period, so it
>should be no surprise at all that many of the same people who had rioted
>in the North behaved in the same way after migrating to cities like
>The war itself so devastated the southern economy that it would take
>more than a century for average southern income to achieve the same
>proportion compared to the North that existed in 1860. So-called
>Reconstruction added fuel to this economic fire by imposing high taxes
>and out-of-control government spending and borrowing on a region that
>was in dire need of tax amnesty. The male ex-slaves were all recruited
>to register and vote Republican to become part of this plunder, while
>whites were disenfranchised for a while at the beginning of the period.
>This naturally — and needlessly — generated even greater racial
>animosity in the region. When Reconstruction ended, the Republican Party
>occupiers went home and left the hapless ex-slaves to fend for
>The Northern investors and businessmen who benefited so much from the
>plundering of the South finally "turned their attention to the West,"
>said McPherson in his Gettysburg presentation. Translated into plain
>English, this means that the U.S. army devoted its full attention to its
>campaign of ethnic genocide against the Plains Indians to make way for
>the government-subsidized transcontinental railroads. The amount of
>swindling and corruption associated with this venture rivaled that of
>To McPherson (and Ignatius) it was not so much the invasion,
>destruction, and subsequent plundering of the South during
>Reconstruction that was responsible for the South's economic demise, but
>"giving up on Reconstruction." Thus, if there is a lesson to be learned
>from James McPherson's presentation to the Defense Department
>bureaucrats in Gettysburg it is this: Pay no attention to actual facts,
>historical or otherwise; rely instead on the politically correct,
>"virtual history" concocted by court historians; ignore the current
>"troubles" in Iraq that result in the death of more and more young
>Americans (and Iraqi civilians) every single day; send more troops; and
>make no plans to ever end the military occupation. That, says David
>Ignatius, would be failing to learn the lessons of American history,
>Washington Post style. 
>                                                            May 11, 2005
>Thomas J. DiLorenzo is the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at
>Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers
>Press/Random House). His latest book is How Capitalism Saved America:
>The Untold Story of Our Country's History, from the Pilgrims to the
>Present (Crown Forum/Random House, August 2004).
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