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Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Benjamin Hill as applicable to Texas
Moldbug directed me to Senator Hill's "Notes Upon The Situation" long, long ago. This essay reads like a filibuster speech and is as long; pages 730-811 in his collected works. I didn't bother with it at the time - he was, after all, a Georgian and I was Texan. He is also histrionic; I would rate this particular speech eleven Shatners... out of four. The commenters in Moldbug's latest are still citing Hill as a primary text. Moldbug himself, even in citing Hill, understood the old villain as being "buddies" with "sheet-wearers".
Hill is not one of Moldbug's imams. Moldbug does however recommend Charles Francis Adams Jr. - decidedly NOT a cracker redneck good ol boy. Hill and Adams agreed that the South had no right to secession - at least, no right to join the Confederacy. Despite that, these two also agreed that Robert Lee deserved a national statue (not just a Virginian statue); certainly more deserved such a monument in DC than Cromwell deserved one in his land.
Hill in Notes is railing against a series of "Military Bills"; during which he brings up, frequently, the spectre of racial war. For that, Hill has the Haiti card to play, and he deals that card at the end (p. 811). Either the US may permit Jim Crow in the South; or else the South will exterminate its blacks; or else the North and the blacks must exterminate the South's whites.
I find Hill's argument difficult to track with mine own experience. I've dealt with Reconstruction in Texas. I suspect it went differently there than it did in Hill's native Georgia. Yes, there was Klan in Texas, suppressing the black vote. But I also have a comparison between TX and LA; Georgia was politically closer to upriver Louisiana than to Texas as a whole. That means, to the extent that Edmund Davis and his Radical faction won elections, it was because Texans who were not black were willing to give Radicalism a chance.
Texans abandoned Reconstruction by choice; because after enduring Radical government, they judged it a bad one - bad, not the least, for blacks - and thought that Conservatives might do better. (And, yes, some Southerners bore memories of the "outrages" of 1865-6. Imagine if Texas had the female suffrage during the 1870s. Blacks in Texas got off easy.) And I never heard that creepy term "Redemption" until I started into the histories of Louisiana and points east.
Georgia, I take it, was "redeemed" by wet-work as were Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Lucky Texas.
Where Hill starts to speak of concerns I might understand, is in page 804. There he cites the "all the time Union Men":
These last have the greatest cause to complain of the bad faith of the Government and the ungenerous and destructive action of the Radicals since the surrender of the Southern armies. These Military Bills make their wisdom madness, their promises lies, and their hopes the bitterest gall. They would lose their own respect and the respect of all men if they did not denounce and reject these bills as embodying the most infamous treachery to the National faith and the most ungrateful contempt for Union fidelity in the South. They opposed Radicalism for the same reason they opposed secession - because they loved and still love the Constitution and the Union under it. But now they find the United States Congress laughing at the Constitution as a "ghost", and they find General Pope blindly loving the most unprincipled of the secessionists, and denouncing true Union men as "turbulent and disloyal reactionary leaders" who must be banished from the country before peace can be secured under Radical reconstruction.
Then, page 808:
They [whites] are not able to resist. They are tired of war. They are helpless. They have no arms. They surrendered them to you, sir, as to an honorable foe! They are poor. Little bureau officers daily insult them. Little sergeants daily oppress them. Little assessors and collectors daily rob them. High-titled generals daily slander them. Black and white spies daily dog them. A mighty nation, which pledged them protection if they would lay down their arms, dominates in vengeance over them, and will not so much as hear their wrongs or permit them even to make complaint of their grievances.
I repeat, I cannot think as a Georgian white man thinks. But whilst this was going on the majority of Texan whites endured violence (1865-6), despotism (1872-3), and arbitrary rule throughout (1865-74). These parts of Hill's speech would have made sense to Texans then.
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