||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Saturday, July 16, 2011
An index to Reconstruction in Texas
I don't know that I'm quite done with Reconstruction. It's just that I have done enough that an index is warranted. Here is a list of recent articles. You will find that it is not chronological. They are in that order which I recommend reading them.
Keep in mind that Texas was a sideshow. I agree with Lane and Loewen that the main event was in Louisiana. To be fair to the protagonists of this era, one must also look to events in the 19th-century Caribbean.
The Ku Klux Klan in Texas, 1867-70
I have recently found on Google SLAVE NARRATIVES: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (DC: The Library of Congress Project, 1936−1938).
Charles Ramsdell sees the Klan in Texas as a band of pranksters and wannabes, almost a joke (232-3). With these narratives, we can now read what the black populace thought of these merrie hooded robins. I already have accounts like Loewen's account of Gainesville in Lies Across America 36, 163-7; that the lynchings after the war were an outgrowth of the Confederate cleansings of proUnion towns like Comfort before it.
I'll restrict this overview to Texans during the 1865-74 period. Since Agatha Babino, Ellen Betts, OW Green, Pauline Grice, Charley Hurt, John James, Lorenza Ezell, Sam Kilgore, and Pierce Harper moved to Texas after that (not sure about Louis Cain); their narratives will be kept in mind as background only.
I will also keep in mind Ward's warnings in the conclusion to The Slaves' War. Some of the elderly black people - "negroes", if you track the Field - might not have told all they wanted to tell. This was still the 1930s and the Klan was still a bother. But unlike Ward, I am not going to censor what I relate just because the speaker happened to drop an N-bomb.
If I can believe Lorenza Ezell, the Klan started in South Carolina as one of the dodges to keep blacks on the farm; but in Texas, the Klan meme arrived as masked vigilante. (Think "Redneck Batman".) John Crawford:
De Ku Klux made a lot of devilment round−about dat county. Dey allus chasin' some nigger and beatin' him up. But some dem niggers sho' 'serve it. When dey gits free, dey gits wild. Dey won't work or do nothin' and thinks dey don't have to. We didn't have no trouble, 'cause we stays on de farm and works and don't have no truck with dem wild niggers.
I did mention Redneck Batman, and Crawford did only say that only some freedmen deserved a kluxing. Betty Bormer:
Sho', I seen de Klux after de war but I has no 'sperience wid 'em. My uncle, he gits whipped by 'em, what for I don' know 'zactly, but I think it was 'bout a hoss. Marster sho' rave 'bout dat, 'cause my uncle weren't to blame. When de Klux come de no 'count nigger sho make de scatterment. Some climb up de chimney or jump out de winder and hide in de dugout and sich.
Then all this white-knight crap got to the Klan's head. Harrison Beckett:
It's at Panola County where I first hears of de Klux. Dey call dem White Caps den. Dey move over in Panola County and ranges at de place call Big Creek Merval by McFaddin Creek. Dey's purty rough. De landowners tell dey niggers not to kill de White Caps but to scare dem 'way. At night dey come knock and if you don't open it dey pry it open and run you out in de field. Dey run de niggers from Merryville round Longview. Dey some good men in de Klux and some bad men. But us work hard and go home and dey ain't bother us none.
Soon enough the Klan emerged in its final form as the Invisible Empire. Eli Davison reported, "
Tom Holland recalls how the Klan resorted to murder:
If the Negro wanted to vote the Klu Kluxes was right there to keep him from votin'. Negroes was 'fraid to git out and try to 'xert they freedom. They'd ride up by a Negro and shoot him jus' like a wild hawg and never a word said or done 'bout it.
William Hamilton witnessed that in his area, after some struggle, the Klan committed an act so heinous that US troops stepped in:
Right over on Massa Ditto's place, am a killin' of a baby by dem Klux. De baby am in de mammy's arms and a bunch of Klux ridin' by takes a shot at de mammy, and it hits de baby and kills it. Right after de baby killin', sojers with blue coats comes dere and camps front of Massa Buford's place and pertects de cullud folks. I goes over to dey camp every day and dey gives me lots of good eats.
Hamilton, in my opinion, is a standout as a witness. He saw that the Klan attacked the local whites as well - even the Bufords. He also noted that the local blacks weren't always on the level themselves. From his mention of soldiery, I date this account to the military period of Reconstruction, in the 1860s.
By 1872, the Governor was Edmund Davis. He set out to protect black Republicans, by means of a local police force. He had established some safe havens, around the cities anyway. Here is Scott Hooper:
but dem Klu Klux causes so much troublement. All us niggers 'fraid to sleep in de house and goes to de woods at night. Pappy gits 'fraid something happen to us and come to Fort Worth. Dat in 1872 and he farms over in de bottom.
The (Communist) historian Eric Foner tells that Davis's police was as intrusive as it was, precisely to root out the Klan. Given Hooper's testimony - and the history of Harrison County - I have to agree. Reconstruction in Texas overall may fairly be deemed "arbitrary" but I would not use the term "oppressive". Loewen wishes it had been more oppressive.
The black vote, I will posit, did get suppressed in Texas throughout the Reconstruction period. The next question is, was the Klan effective enough to end Reconstruction?
The Conservatives' model country
Every political movement needs an ideological vanguard. As I've documented here for the past two years, "Conservatism" is that political movement of and for the American people. Blacks may be Conservative too.
Conservatives - as opposed to us Reactionaries - believe that America may be convinced of the rightness of their ideals via the ballot-box. Conservatives refuse race-realist arguments. Conservatives cannot discuss even Reconstruction seriously. Conservatives thus reject the race-realists as a vanguard.
Conservatives have turned to Protestant Christians as their organisers and have promoted black Conservatives especially; or at least, let alone their sillier statements. So, if Conservatives ever received the imperium, how would they justify it?
[Such a] government thinks that [Christianity] is the only way to hold their state together (since it consists of a number of fractious minorities) and justifies its existence as the guardian of the [Christian] faith from the predatory aggression of [secular liberals].
This above is from James P., commenting at Auster's. (Lightly adapted.)
Fortunately for those of us weighing the pros and cons of the various political entities here, the Conservatives' ideal has already been implemented - just not with Christians, but with Muslims. Would such an amirate work better than has Pakistan's, across the American South? This time, under a faith less muscular than is Islam?
The Slaves' War and the freedmens' spoils
In the bookstore at noon 13 July, I found The Slaves' War by Andrew Ward. I recalled that Moldbug had recommended slave narratives, so I checked out the Reconstruction period.
That means we're technically not talking about slaves anymore, but about freedmen now. In Ward, their accounts span pages 254-97, chapters 28-31. Today I have found the primary source, US Congress slave narratives of 1936-8.
I have added the freedmens' accounts to several essays here, including "Ramsdell's observations on the Negro" and to "Delator rule". I also have extracted some observations on the Ku Klux Klan as an independent essay. I had some notes left over from Ward, which go toward the human effect of Emancipation. This post won't be an exclusively Texan study.
Emancipation's effect upon the planters was demoralising. Many masters killed themselves: 260. In 270-1, Ward relates that the freedmen witnessed much depression. Sometimes the slaves remembered this with contempt, as with the white man who walked with a stoop for the rest of his life. Sometimes, with satisfaction. Sometimes, though - with pathos.
Ward offers some witnesses to support any bloggers working the Nehemiah Adams beat (I'm not quite there yet). Roxy Pitts mourned emancipation (259). Cora Shepherd (271) remembers the people wailing, "us won't get no more shirts". The children of slaves bought into the romance of the white men as princes of their world.
But apologists must always remember: that's the women and children. Outside massa's house, slavery had been a world of lick-and-lock-up. On attaining freedom, most slaves broke out in song here as their uncles had done in Barbados.
North Dakota retains the right to secede
When the Union considered admitting North Dakota, North Dakota's proposed state constitution did not require its officeholders to swear allegiance to the US Constitution. The Union admitted this region as a state anyway.
In article 6, section 3, the US Constitution requires such allegiance as a condition of office:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.
The Constitution does not, however, require this a law of its component States. This is I think deliberate. The US quietly allowed for secession until 1860.
North Dakota remains a state only because its officeholders have chosen to honor this pledge. At any moment North Dakota could abjure this oath and - legally - walk out.
I strongly recommend that North Dakota refuse the Constitutional amendment this November.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
The post-Obama unity government
Obama / Romney 2012? So says Thad McCotter, facetiously. He might be onto something - Obama is a corporatist and a socialist, and his healthcare bill was both. Exactly like Romney's bill in Massachusetts, which proved the same of Romney.
McCotter himself is a bailout-kingpin. Obama might be better off with McCotter as his veep.
The wags are not thinking of Cabinet positions. Here, we get a view of specific proposals - many of them, longstanding demands by the candidates, demands which Obama has already implemented. We might say that McCotter is already Obama's Secretary of Labor and that Romney is already Obama's Secretary of Health. Gingrich is, likewise, already his Secretary of the Interior (Environment); Dubya-Bush, his Secretary of War. One oversight: Perry isn't Secretary of Education yet... except for HBD.
Pawlenty seems like the biggest also-ran in this lot. He's the best choice as veep.
This exercise was fun, but ultimately depressing. If it's this easy to find Republicans to staff Obama's administration; then the Republicans aren't, at base, an opposition party.
No, I want this deck chair
A lulzy debate is going on at the good ship Ace-tanic. (Ace himself has set his site adrift on the high seas for a couple years now. His site, like back-then LGF, stays afloat because of its commenters.)
Candidate Michele Bachmann had endorsed a statement which mentioned, in a preamble which Bachmann apparently skipped, that blacks were morally better people under slavery than they are now. (Sadly, Bachmann missed her opportunity to cite Nehemiah Adams.) As often, the First Mate DrewM starts the fun by being his pompous self. His fellow passengers then bicker and argue and spill champagne over their canapes.
Baldilocks, Christian black conservative, links to here. Said site starts with an argument, and then rambles on to other stuff its author doesn't like - like the Out Of Africa hypothesis for human origins.
It is true that Mitochondrial Eve and Y Adam don't suffice to explain Europeans (or New Guineans) - we're at least 5% Neanderthal and, some say, other percentages "misc". However this isn't because humans were spun out of clay in 4004 BC, nor "directed" into the Elohim's purpose in 10,000 BC. It's because Neanderthals (with Denisovans... and I assume, with others) left Africa even earlier than Out Of Africa predicts - 500,000 BC.
I must repeat: black Conservatives are useless. Their arguments won't even convince whites, excepting white Conservatives who are in fact a minority of whites. Black conservatives have no hope for convincing blacks, some of the latter of whom are well aware of reactionary sites where whites say what we really think.
Anyway, as to the rest of the debate: it's a joke. Bachmann is thrown overboard. Conservatives argue. The Left points to the undercurrent of raaaaacism in the Conservative movement; which they can, because Conservative racism would exist (due to asabiya) even if the races were fundamentally equal, which they are not (due to IQ-hereditability).
As for the original statement, which put Bachmann in this fix: it's true. All fair-minded people know it's true. The Digital Publius points out that from a Christian standpoint, slavery saved his peoples' souls. Such thoughts are simply not permitted, and nice people vote as they are permitted.
That's why democracy can't work, ladies and gentlemen: the majority rules on what is a fact and what is not. The laws of science and of economics beg to differ. When these laws exert their force, you get the situation we are in today.
What If: Reconstruction worked in Louisiana
In this what-if, Governor Henry Clay Warmoth in Louisiana is like Governor Edmund Davis in Texas. Warmoth prepares in advance. He stacks Louisiana's courts with politically-active blacks and pro-Union Southerners. He corresponds closely with Texans like Davis about the Red River and the Gulf. He recruits outside his state for his national-guard. He grooms Kellogg as his successor.
Kellogg's election (or not) is equally chaotic and the Radicals still take the Colfax courthouse in 1873, but this time Warmoth has prepared Kellogg's response. Reconstruction loyalists arrive at Colfax on Easter weekend to smash the white militia; or (perhaps more likely) soon enough to catch those involved on their merry way home. Kellogg waves the bloody shirt and buys more time from the North. Louisiana and Mississippi go decidedly for Hayes in 1876, requiring no dispute over the Electoral College. Louisianans retain their confidence that Reconstruction is still in force for a few more years yet.
I expect that blacks in Texas (under Coke) and in Arkansas would flee their states toward their southeastern neighbour. Louisianan "Redeemer" whites would slip away north and west. Louisiana then becomes a black-majority and black-power state.
Could this process happen without "incidents" much like those of Colfax and Coushatta? Would Louisiana go more like Barbados? like Rhodesia? or more like Haiti, Angola, Mozambique, and now South Africa? I know Louisianans today; I know the answer to this question. Black Louisianans then were no better.
Here're some more serious questions. What happens to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina (I assume that blacks flock hither from the states to their north, too)? What do Northerners think when they watch this process play out?
Would this process have been more likely to create the most aggregate happiness for the most people, than did the Redemption process?
The Dunning School offers no class in Louisiana
Loewen notes this (1950) memorial in Colfax:
Loewen wrote a whole book on such outbreaks of propaganda: Lies Across America. It's a sequel to Lies My Teacher Told Me. Both of them object to non-Left narratives of American history. Sometimes, as in the Mountain Meadows incident, he has a point. Overall, at least in Lies Across America, by pointing out every point where the Right has laid out its case poorly, the author leaves the reader to conclude "on his own" that the Right has no argument.
In researching this counter-argument on the Right's behalf, I can thank Moldbug's blog, and (lately) Jarvis's bibliography. The latter includes, in order: Mississippi, Alabama, Texas (yay!), Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and - in an afterthought - Arkansas. Jarvis omits South Carolina and Louisiana.
For my purpose, Reconstruction matters most where the most blacks were. Jarvis also omits Tennessee and (the non-Western remnant of) Virginia. Both are Border South. If the Dunning School could defend counter-Reconstruction in Texas, then it could even more easily defend it in Tennessee and Virginia. I assume that such books are out there. I don't care enough to read them. Blacks were an actual force in Louisiana, and in South Carolina; their history in these states is something to care about.
Louisiana's omission from Jarvis's bibliography is definitely worth caring about. Gulf Coast Quebec is the Redemption-State in Reconstruction hagiography... and that's not a good thing. It's the state of the Coushatta and Colfax massacres, and of several New Orleans race-riots. Of the most atrocious of the Klan actions listed in the "Texan" narratives - those which Agatha Babino reports, for instance - most were committed in Louisiana. Ellen Betts, like Babino from Opelousas, stuck up for Louisiana; but even she knew of her home state's notoriety and that her position was contrarian. Louisiana is the state where freedom died. My foil here, Loewen, could retort against my project here that any Dunning School book on Texas is skirting the border of the issue, that issue being the Red River and Gulf Coast traffic - that is, Louisiana.
One can make - I have made - an argument that in Texas, Reconstruction was doomed. Supporters of Reconstruction (like Loewen) argue that in Louisiana, the experiment was not doomed. Loewen asserts that Colfax (for one) happened because contemporary racists worried that Reconstruction might actually "work" - that is, create a black-run state which could survive without Federal intervention.
First, we'll dispense with the bullshit. Loewen opines that Reconstruction "misrule" in Louisiana was less of a misrule than was the corrupt government of the Redeemers after it. This is arguable. But there's no point in arguing it here; because the Redeemers didn't know, at the time, that they were installing a corrupt government. Nordhoff documented in 1875 sufficiently, the misrule of Reconstruction in its final days. In addition, other Southern states - notably Texas and Georgia - managed to reform their governments such that business and commerce could survive with a minimum of bribery. That Louisiana failed to curb its corruption is not the fault of Redemption; it's the fault of Louisiana's Redeemers. Loewen has employed a tu-quoque tactic of misdirection. Loewen means by this tactic to cut our sympathy for the white cause and to support the black cause.
Having done with that, here's an argument for a pro-Reconstruction author with more ethics than has Loewen. Louisiana, along the coast and lower Mississippi anyway, had a population of free blacks, and a history of free blacks, dating back to the French. As a result Louisiana's elite blacks came from more walks of life. Terms like "black middle class" and even "upper class" meant something in Louisiana, beyond state patronage. By this argument, Black Louisiana would have managed along like the South African "cape coloureds" have managed along in the 1990s and 2000s, or as Belize and Jamaica have managed along. I am prepared to concede that argument over the short term.
So to roll back Reconstruction in Louisiana may well have required a reign of terror, including events like Colfax. To argue for that, the Right must argue that Redemption created a delicious Southern omelette from its broken Creole heads I mean, eggs. The Right would have to argue the long-term contrafactuals.
The Right (excepting maybe Moldbug - and even then, only in Georgia) seems currently not sure enough in its convictions to state that case explicitly. Hence, the Right lies, at Colfax; and omits, in Jarvis's list.
In Texas, Reconstruction was doomed
We read from Richter (190) that the Radicals didn't have the numbers to rule Texas as a democracy. That means that most whites in 1850s-80s Texas believed that blacks were unfit for self-government in such a context. Did they have good reason?
When one looks at the black delegations to Texas's Constitutional conventions, one sees many preachers and immigrants from the North. That's because, in Texas, those were the blacks who could read. The outrages of 1865 and 1866, at least along the Gulf Coast, proved that enough blacks were ignorant or wicked that white civilians could not trust them with power over them.
This taught the conservatives how to regain power over the rest of the state, and in 1873 they carried out this plan: let the Radicals win. The conservatives bet that most Texans, given a taste of Radical rule - black rule - would vote for white rule.
In Texas, the bet paid off. As for the extent to which blacks are fit to run a state nowadays - to what extent black morality has improved over the decades - I'll leave to other posts and to other blogs.
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