My Children, Father, Thy forgiveness need;
Alas! their hearts have only place for tears!
Forgive them, Father, ev’ry wrongful deed,
And every sin of those four bloody years;
And give them strength to bear their boundless loss,
And from their hearts take every thought of hate;
And while they climb their Calvary with their Cross,
Oh! help them, Father, to endure its weight.
— from The Prayer of the South
FOLLOWING the War Between the States (1861-65), Jefferson Davis, President of the defeated Confederate States of America, was imprisoned with a view to his being tried for treason on account of his leadership role in the South’s effort to make of itself an independent nation. Two years later, however, he was released and went into exile in Montreal (in Catholic Quebec) and then wandered in Europe before returning to these shores to spend his final days in his home state of Mississippi. His release came after a finding by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Salmon P. Chase, that there was nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibited the secession of states. If secession was not illegal, neither Davis nor any other Confederate leaders could be guilty of treason.
The treatment endured in prison by Davis — a gentleman, a hero of the Mexican War, one-time son-in-law of a U.S. President (Zachary Taylor), a U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Senator from Mississippi prior to becoming President of the C.S.A. — ill bespoke those who imprisoned him. It was clearly calculated to break him as a man. For instance, guards were posted around the clock inside his cell in order to deprive him of all privacy, including even at the times every day when nature required that he take care of the most private needs of all.
As unchivalrous and plain indecent as was the treatment meted out to him by his vindictive jailers, President Davis was not without solace during confinement. A rosary sent by some sisters in Savannah reached him. More notably, comfort was extended by the Vicar of Christ himself, Ven. Pope Pius IX. It took the form of a crown of thorns woven by the pope with his own hands and a portrait of the pontiff autographed with the words from Scripture, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
These items, the crown and the portrait, were sent to the Confederate President when he was still in prison and they may be viewed today at a museum in New Orleans. The portrait is an etching. The crown, with thorns about two inches long, is such that it is hard to see how the pope could have fashioned it without hurting himself.
Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church — the very one who promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, published to the world the famous Syllabus of Errors, and presided over the Vatican Council that solemnly defined the dogma of papal infallibility — seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?
Mrs. Davis also suffered, and also — like the President — received comfort from a Catholic direction. Stranded with her children in Georgia when the fighting was over, her husband imprisoned, destitute, she would later write a friend: “No institution of my own Church offered to teach my children. One day three Sisters of Charity came to see me and brought me five gold dollars, all the money they had. They almost forced me to take the money, but I did not. They then offered to take my children to their school in the neighborhood of Savannah, where the air was cool and they could be comfortably cared for during the summer months.”
It could not be learned for this writing if the sisters who helped Mrs. Davis were the same ones who sent a rosary to her imprisoned husband, but it would not be surprising if they were. Catholic charity, when it is truly itself, is always designed to uplift souls as well as furnish practical help.
If Pope Pius sought to comfort the President as well as the man — and when can a man, whether President, Pope or CEO, ever be completely separated from his office? — the reason most likely can be found in an understanding of the Old South’s way of life and by considering the life of the Church in the South both before and during the years that the region fought unsuccessfully for its nationhood. Arriving at the understanding, and undertaking the consideration are worthwhile, since the picture that will emerge is part of the heritage of Catholic Americans in whatever part of the country they live, or even if their own ancestors did not reach these shores until after the War Between the States.
That last point is an excellent one at which to begin to look for the answer to why Pope Pius sought to comfort Davis. (It should be noted that he was the only European prince of the day to recognize — at least in a de facto way — the Southern nation, the Confederate States of America.) Quite simply, though Catholicism was a minority religion in both parts of the country, the Catholic influence in American society was much stronger in the less populous South than in the North at the time of the war. This is because the first ancestors in this country of the majority of today’s U.S. Catholics did not arrive until after the conflict.
To be sure, the potato famine drove many Irish to America in the 1840s and many of them settled in the North, particularly in seaboard cities like New York. There were also other Catholics in the North before the war, notably German ones in southern Ohio and Indiana. However, the great waves of Catholic immigrants that eventually populated Northern cities and would make the Church the largest single Christian body in the country did not begin to arrive until later. Certainly there was no place in the North at the time of the war that could be described as Catholic the way, for instance, New Orleans could.
Moreover, the majority of prewar Northern Catholics, the Irish who had settled in the seaboard cities, were laborers. Their influence was virtually nil in a society dominated by Protestant manufacturers, bankers, and merchants that tolerated them — to the extent it did — because their labor was cheap.
It was otherwise in the South. In a region where family mattered, numerous leading families were Catholic. The Carrolls of Maryland can be cited in this regard. Charles Carroll was the wealthiest man in the Colonies when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Many leading Southern families that were not Catholic had members who were. An example would be the Lees of Virginia from whom was sprung the Confederacy’s Gen. Robert E. Lee. A nephew of his was the founding pastor of the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C.
Even when the leading families of the South were not Catholic — and most were not — they tended to have a high regard and deep respect for the Church and her institutions, especially her schools. It was very common for these families to send their children to them simply because that is where the best education was to be had. An example in this regard is Jefferson Davis himself, the eventual President of the C.S.A. His father sent him as a boy to Kentucky to be schooled by Dominicans.
While among them young Davis — he was but nine — asked to be received into the Church. His desire was not realized. Alas, for what amounts to secondary concerns (family, youth, etc.), the Dominicans did not do as the boy wished and receive him into the Church.
Despite the ostentatious piety of many of his public pronouncements, Abraham Lincoln is not known ever to have joined any Christian body as a member. (He did use to walk over to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, a couple of blocks from the White House, on some Sundays, tipping his hat to passersby. This was an 1860s equivalent of the photo-op.) In contrast, Davis embraced a form of Episcopalianism adhered to by many leading Southerners that was very “High Church,” very “Catholic” in its externals. It was exemplified by the cleric who received Davis into Episcopalianism, his former West Point classmate Bishop Leonidas Polk, who would die in battle during the War Between the States as a general of the Army of the C.S.A.
Add to the fact that Davis became the kind of “High Church” Episcopalian he did, the additional one that the southern part of Mississippi from which he hailed was quite Catholic on account of the area’s Spanish and French past. (His home, Beauvoir, was within easy striking distance of New Orleans, where he would die while on a visit.) Further, Davis and his wife, Varina, were comfortable enough around Catholics to count numerous of them among their friends. Then there is also the fact that it was in Catholic places they took refuge when exile was their lot. All this, and more, suggests that the desire of Davis to become a Catholic when a boy was preserved into his manhood as at least a high regard for the Church and an admiration for Catholic culture.
The Pope and the President
Enough of that regard and admiration doubtless was communicated in letters from Davis to Pope Pius for it to be manifest to the pontiff, if only in terms of the letters’ tone. The correspondence between the Confederate President and Ven. Pope Pius IX was not voluminous, but illuminating. It began when Union agents set about trying to recruit mercenaries from such European Catholic lands as Poland and Ireland. President Davis wrote to Pius, appealing to him to exercise the powers of his office to frustrate the recruiting effort. At his end, Pius communicated to the relevant bishops his concern that the recruitment risked internationalizing the American conflict. Moreover, when he responded directly to Davis he took care to address him as: “His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.”
Some historians have tried to contend otherwise, as if Vatican diplomacy, famous for its punctiliousness, suddenly went slipshod, but for Pius so to address Davis constituted recognition of the existence of the C.S.A. So would the pontiff’s later agreement to receive a personal envoy, an ambassador, of President Davis.
Why did Pius, alone among European heads of state, extend recognition? On this score, there is no particular historical document to which the historian can refer, no memorandum ever retrieved from the archives of the Holy See or Confederate State Department that explains in black and white why he did. We can still arrive at a likely explanation. This will be by coming to a deeper understanding of Southern culture, of the Southern way of life. We shall be helped in this by a remarkable essay, Religion and the Old South, written nearly 70 years ago by Allen Tate, poet, essayist, Southerner, and convert to the Faith. (He also wrote a novel, The Fathers, that cannot be too highly recommended. When it was published in 1938, one critic hailed it as “the novel Gone With The Wind should have been.”)
The Old South, Tate shows, had the only truly European civilization ever known in America. That is in the sense that it was a civilization rooted in its own soil. It was one that produced men who measured their success in life according to non-material standards, perhaps the chief of them being honor. It was an agricultural civilization, and a hierarchical one. That by itself was enough to make Pius or even most ordinary Catholics of the day sympathetic to the South. Certainly the Catholic Bishops of the South were sympathetic. There is no record of any failing to support the Confederacy. One of them, Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charleston, South Carolina, became President Davis’ envoy to Ven. Pope Pius IX.
The Wrong Religion
Unfortunately — we are continuing with Tate’s presentation of Southern reality — the South did not adopt an agricultural and hierarchical religion to support its civilization. Even the “High Church” Episcopalianism exemplified by Bishop Polk and embraced by President Davis was not very widely practiced by ordinary Southerners. Instead, too much of the South adopted, as Tate puts it, “the Teutonic Puritanism of the New England textile manufacturers.”
The result was tragic. Without the right religion to support and sustain its civilization, the South, it can be said, lost the War Between the States even before the first shots were fired. This brings us close to the answer to a question once asked by the Spanish historian, Salvador de Madariaga.
As have very many other Europeans over the years, the Spaniard once undertook a study of the War Between the States. At the end of it, he asked, referring to the South, “Why didn’t they try again?” That is, he perceived that the South’s struggle was a nationalist one, and he was thinking of European peoples like the Poles and Hungarians who would revolt every 50 years until they finally achieved independence. The South did not do that.
Secession and Racism — Northern Style
Did Abraham Lincoln always hold that secession was treason? Here is something he said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1847, when he was a member of Congress: “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” Would not Southerners qualify as being among “any people, anywhere”?
In 1845, fifteen years before the Southern states seceded, many New Englanders were so opposed to the admission of Texas to the Union that they threatened to withdraw from it. They were led by former U.S. President John Quincy Adams. Even before that, in 1806, U.S. Senator Plumer of New Hampshire was so outraged by the admission of Louisiana that he declared: “The Eastern States must and will dissolve the Union and form a separate government of their own; and the sooner they do this, the better.” Plumer was joined by U.S. Senator Pickering of Massachusetts. He wrote: “I rather anticipate a new Confederacy exempt from the corrupt influence of the aristocratic Democrats of the South… There will be a separation… The British provinces [of Canada], even with the consent of Great Britain, will become members of the Northern Confederacy.”
Sen. Pickering’s talk of a Northern Confederacy is striking enough. What asks to be underlined is the reference to the “corrupt influence” of aristocratic Southerners on the nation. Northern leaders saw that Southern society, being agricultural and — like the Church — hierarchical, was different from their own, which had commerce for its main activity and whose leaders (themselves) were bourgeois. They did not like the difference. Eventually it would be eliminated by going to war and imposing on the South a years-long military occupation known as “Reconstruction.” What was “reconstructed” was the Southern way of life. The history of that period is its own horror story, in large part because the time was seen by many Northerners as an opportunity to make of the South a “graveyard of whites,” a region to be governed by blacks “upheld by Northern white bayonets.” One Massachusetts politician even urged that South Carolina, Georgia and Florida “be set apart as the home of the Negro.”
These were Northerners revealed to be — as many would be again at the time of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka in the 1950s — as segregation-minded as any Southerner during the period of Jim Crow, and much more so than any in the Old South when their agricultural labors brought Southern whites and slaves into daily and close contact. Had the Northern dream of a separate homeland for blacks been fulfilled, the suffering that could have resulted, first of all among blacks, is incalculable.
Abraham Lincoln certainly was segregation-minded, but he never envisioned a separate homeland within these shores for blacks. His solution to the problem caused by slavery was more radical. He wanted to “colonize” blacks — back to Africa. In August, 1862, he convened a White House conference with black leaders and said to them: “Why should people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? 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 we suffer from your presence. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated.”
Tate, we say, explains why. Having adopted the worst kind of Protestantism (a form of it perhaps sufficient for commercial types concentrated on making money, as long as that is all they seek 1 ), the South quite simply lacked the spiritual resources even to sustain its way of life, let alone to defend it again with arms. What the South needed was the religion whose very liturgical cycles reflect the lives of men attuned to nature’s cycles because they live on the land and work it; men who understand they are equal only in terms of life’s ultimate end, which is to say before God; men bent on loftier tasks than money-making, like preserving their honor; men of peace but ready to fight if need be, like the famous and anonymous Confederate soldier captured after Mr. Lincoln sent his troops into the South and who was asked, “Why do you fight us, Johnny Reb?”
“Because you are here,” the soldier answered.
Although to note it risks widening too far the scope of these lines having to do with the War Between the States, the defeat of the Southerners is paralleled in history, and was even presaged, by that of other gallants — the cavaliers who fought and died for Charles I of England against the Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell. As writer Matthew Anger recently observed in a commentary on Hilaire Belloc’s Cromwell (see The Remnant , February 15, 1998):
“It is important to realize that the English Civil Wars contained within them the seeds of future conflicts and revolution. Unfortunately, we seldom reflect upon the period because it comes so early in the chronology of our own [English] colonial settlement. Yet, as Will Durant points out, the Civil War of 1861-65 was in many ways a replay of events two centuries before, even down to the level of the material and doctrinal motivations. Permitting some degree of generalization, more traditional and agrarian interests were pitted against radical and moneyed urban interests. Both contests, while not overt struggles between Catholicism and its opponents, nevertheless ended in a decided victory for the anti-Catholic tendency. It was a further stage in the ongoing revolt against Christendom begun with Luther and Calvin.”
We have said that many leading Southerners had the right religion, or were sympathetic to it, and it would be easy in a short essay to focus on them, to speak exclusively of prominent men, of heroes of the fighting like the twenty Confederate generals who were Catholic, including, very notably, Gen. James Longstreet, a convert, or of the Catholics who were members of President Davis’ cabinet. 2
As long as our subject is neglected figures of the Old South, like the sisters who nursed the soldiers’ wounds and the chaplains who succored their souls, it is fitting to speak of a people who had a nation of their own but fought for the South, as allies, as hard as any Confederate. We speak of Native Americans, Cherokees and others belonging to the so-called “five civilized tribes,” but especially the Cherokees, who had an independent nation in what is now Oklahoma.
They were not Catholic, but their constitution, though modeled on that of the U.S., differed from it insofar as it at least stipulated belief in a “Supreme Being” as a requirement for holding public office. So close was their alliance with the Confederacy that they had representatives in Congress in Richmond. A full-blood Cherokee, Stand Watie, was the very last Confederate general to surrender his arms.
Of course the main reason to evoke here the Cherokee-Confederate alliance is to suggest that the Old South may not have been quite as “racist” as decades of hostile propaganda have given everyone to believe. Received knowledge on this subject will be further thrown into confusion if it is mentioned that among the Confederacy’s Native-American allies were planters with slave-holdings greater than were possessed by all but a handful of the small minority of white Southerners who owned slaves.
That these prominent figures existed, and in greater number (proportionally) than in the North, helps explain the Catholic influence in the Old South, but to focus on them would be to distort the overall picture. Many ordinary Southerners were also Catholic. Not a few of them, or their sons and daughters, joined religious orders. In this regard it needs to be remembered more often than it is that Catholic sisters of various orders, in the North as well as the South (more than 600 on both sides), became the first nurses to tend wounded and ill troops during the war. If Clara Barton and her Red Cross get the credit for this, let it be observed that most historians of the war have not been Catholic.
(Thanks to the ministrations of the sisters, many Catholic soldiers who had become lax, or fallen away, were renewed in their practice of the Faith. Though the number can never be known in this world, there were also many beautiful conversions.)
Southern priests were among the first, if they were not the very first, chaplains in the armies of either side. More than one observer would be struck by the sight of one of these priests looking among battlefield dead for a fallen soldier with a rosary or holy medal and then kneeling in prayer beside him, regardless of the color of his uniform. That these fallen existed and that there were Confederate Catholic chaplains to succor Southern soldiers is further testimony to the Faith not being limited to the South’s leading circles.
There is one Catholic chaplain in particular who must be mentioned in a treatment of the Faith in the Old South. This is Fr. Abram J. Ryan. Born in Virginia and ordained shortly before the war broke out, he is known as the “poet of the Confederacy.” One poem of his, Conquered Banner, composed in the immediate aftermath of the South’s defeat and whose measure, its author told friends, was modeled on a Gregorian Chant melody, can still be recited by heart by very many Southerners. At the Confederate Museum in New Orleans, where is displayed the crown of thorns and portrait sent to President Davis by Ven. Pope Pius IX, there is also a beautiful stained-glass window that depicts Fr. Ryan.
What if the South had succeeded in establishing its independence? At least there would have been an American nation in the mid-nineteenth century marked by a strong Catholic influence. Further, the children sent to Southern Catholic schools by leading families would have grown up and taken their positions as leaders of society; slavery doubtless would have ended; the waves of European Catholic immigrants at the end of the century and beginning of this one would probably have washed onto Southern shores instead of flooding Northern cities, possibly neutralizing or even submerging the “Teutonic Puritanism of the New England textile manufacturers” embraced by too many in the South; and there could have arisen an English-speaking Catholic nation in North America.
Bishop Lynch pays for his “crime”
President Davis was not the only one to suffer after the war. Bishop Lynch, Davis’ ambassador to Pius, was sorely tried. The end of the conflict catching His Excellency in Europe, he was refused permission by a triumphant Union to return to his diocese. Not until Baltimore’s Archbishop John Spalding appealed to U.S. President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, was he allowed to resume his duties in Charlston. When he did, it was in a city largely destroyed by Union bombardment (his own cathedral and residence were gone) and a diocese $200,000 in debt — a vast sum in those days. Through his hard work, all but a fraction of the debt was paid by the time he died in 1882.
All that, and more, could have resulted from the one big “if.” There are other “ifs.” For instance, could the War Between the States have ended differently if Bishop Lynch had reached Rome and been received by Ven. Pope Pius IX earlier than a couple of months before Appomattox? It is conceivable that Vatican diplomacy, given time to do its work, could have moved other European powers to recognize the C.S.A., notably France in light of what was then going on in Mexico.
That suggests another interesting “if.” Bishop Lynch was not the only envoy sent by President Davis to Europe late in the war. Another was dispatched to Paris with the aim of obtaining an audience with Maximilian of Austria, about to assume the Throne of Mexico with French help. Alas, he did not arrive in time to establish contact before Maximilian embarked for his new country. What if contact had been made and relations established between the C.S.A. and the Empire of Mexico? At the least it would have been more difficult for the U.S. to act as it did against the consolidation of a Catholic monarchy in North America. To speculate on how today’s world might look if an English-speaking Catholic republic had come to share a border with a Spanish-speaking Catholic monarchy in this continent probably takes the game of historical “ifs” too far.
Whatever, honest Catholics will have to admit that the influence of the Faith is negligible in America today. Our leading families do not seek a Catholic education for their children as did the father of President Davis. Today’s U.S. President sent his daughter to Sidwell Friends, an extremely liberal Washington, D.C., school founded by Quakers, and then on to Stanford University, now famous for abandoning a curriculum based on the achievements of “dead white men.” Now, not only do those outside the Church lack Catholic influence, but modern Catholics lack it as well. Today’s prominent Catholic political figures, such as they be, show their true loyalties by invariably saying, “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but…” As for the way of life, the culture, of ordinary Catholics today, they divorce, contracept and abort at as great a rate as non-Catholics.
If that is the way of things today, Americans who still cling to the undiluted Faith can recall there was a time and place when it was not so. That was in the South before the War Between the States. Recalling it, not merely can they be proud. They can take heart that if once things were otherwise, they can be again — and for not one region only. It depends on our finding in the past the inspiration we need. It depends on us, period. The spirit of the Old South can rise again, and this time animate all of America. A nation with the Faith as influential somewhere as it was in the Old South would be nice. A Catholic America will be better.
Is it possible? If one of the greatest popes in papal history saw enough evidence of the possibility to honor President Davis with the gifts he did, it ought not be for Catholics still clinging to the Faith to abandon hope of living in a land that would be truly home — truly, because it was become, like themselves, Catholic. And that’s not just whistlin’ Dixie! 3
The Problem of Slavery
In pages like these meant to show that Catholics, though a minority, were an integral part of the Old South, that some of them held high positions in the Confederacy, and that their Faith exercised an influence in the region that it did not in the North, it would be intellectually dishonest to dodge the subject of slavery. Obviously there were Catholics among the minority of white Southerners who owned slaves. To be fair to them, however, most understood — as did many slave-holders who were not Catholic — that the slave trade was evil.
The Church understood it. When the Faith was first brought to the Western Hemisphere, and that was first of all to the part of it now known as Latin America, she did everything possible to prevent the enslavement of indigenous peoples, and she largely succeeded. Then, when the Spanish, soon followed by the French, brought the Faith to North America, there was no effort to enslave Native Americans. The effort was to baptize and civilize them, to include them as full-fledged beneficiaries of the expansion of Christendom that was the great European colonizing enterprise of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Only as the English became increasingly dominant in North America and after they began the import of laborers from Africa did slavery become a problem.
A problem it was, but contrary to popular notions nowadays, it was the South that first began to grapple with it even as it was the same region that first met and has most successfully overcome the challenges posed by the rise of the civil rights movement in this century. Thus it was that in 1831, thirty years before the outbreak of the War Between the States and at a time when slavery was still legal in Massachusetts, its abolition failed in Virginia by just one vote in the state legislature.
More to the point of these lines, there was never any Catholic effort, qua Catholic, to defend slavery. We have said there was no Catholic bishop in the South who failed to support the Confederacy. It is equally true that they did not preach about slavery as if it were anything but evil. (An exception is the French-born Bishop Augustin Verot, of Savannah, Ga., who, while defending the institution, was against its abuse, opposed the slave trade, and took great pains to help the negroes both before and after the war. He also gave succor to the Union POWs in Andersonville prison.) Catholic theologians did not try to defend it as very many Protestant preachers did, and as some Fundamentalists, citing biblical verses, still attempt to do. When Ven. Pope Pius IX agreed in 1865 to receive Bishop Lynch as envoy of the President of the C.S.A., the only condition stipulated for his reception was that slavery would not be a subject for discussion. There is no evidence that His Excellency wanted to try to discuss it or that President Davis instructed him to do so.
If much about slavery in the Old South is successfully misrepresented today, doubtless it is for two reasons: 1) A very great deal of hypocrisy has surrounded the issue at the time of the War Between the States and ever since. 2) Much has been successfully misrepresented in the past.
On the latter score, the most important misrepresentation has been that the North went into the war as a crusade against slavery. That myth was born while the war still raged and it was given birth by the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, probably the most widely unread important document in American history (except perhaps for the Declaration of Independence with its talk of “merciless Indian Savages” so shocking to modern sensibilities).
According to the myth, Mr. Lincoln’s Proclamation “freed the slaves.” In truth, not one slave was freed because of it. It spoke of “all slaves in areas still in rebellion,” not the ones in parts of the C.S.A. already militarily occupied by Union forces, nor those in border states or anywhere else. Naturally those in “areas still in rebellion” were not freed by the Proclamation. Mr. Lincoln knew they would not be. His purpose, plain and simple, was to incite them into a rebellion of their own. In that he failed.
That his purpose was successfully misrepresented at the time, and has been ever since, is not owed exclusively to his careful and lawyerly language going widely unread. It also has to do with the hypocrisy that has always surrounded the slavery issue and the matter of race in general in this country. Northern whites, not being willing openly to admit their own feelings of superiority over “inferior” African Americans, have preferred to impute such “racism” to Southern whites, as if this made the Southerners, also, inferior to themselves, at least morally. In this they have been somewhat like famous modern televangelists thundering against sins of the flesh even as they privately seduced young women or men or were patronizing prostitutes. Only, the truth about Northern whites was not exposed by investigative journalists or trial proceedings. It was desegregation of the public schools that did it. Then the whites showed their true feelings by fleeing to the suburbs.
One case will suffice to illustrate the immensity of Northern hypocrisy in the matter of slavery and race. Outside the South, few today know that Gen. Robert E. Lee freed his slaves before the War Between the States broke out. Even fewer know that Julia Grant, wife of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, still owned three slaves at the end of the war. Two of them were rented out. The third, a female also named Julia, was kept by Mrs. Grant as a maid. When Richmond fell and the war was effectively over, Mrs. Grant traveled down there from Washington, D.C., to visit her husband. She took Julia with her. Thus, at that moment, the only slave in the former Confederate capital who was not freed belonged to the wife of the commanding general of the Union forces!
That is the kind of small but illuminating fact that is kept obscured by writers and others who must distort or hide true past reality in order to fabricate a history on which to base a present and future shaped according to their own idea of what they should be.
Here are some other obscured facts:
• We have just reported that the wife of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was a slave-holder. So was Abraham Lincoln’s father-in-law, and Mrs. Lincoln profited from it. Her share in her father’s estate was derived in part from the sale of his slaves.
• No more than one out of fifteen Southern whites ever owned a slave. That means there were fewer than 350,000 slave-holders in all the South. Yet, about 600,000 soldiers served in the Confederate Armies. If, then, every slave-holder was in uniform — and, certainly, that was not so — there were still hundreds of thousands of soldiers with no personal stake in slavery. So much for the idea that it was to keep their slaves that Southerners fought!
• The price of an able-bodied slave at the time of the war was about $1,000 — still a fair-sized sum today and a very large amount of money in the 1860s. How many slave-holders would starve, beat or otherwise abuse such valuable property? Rare was the mistreatment of any slave.
• Most African laborers brought to America as slaves were animists. Nearly all would embrace the Christianity of their eventual owners. Is it likely they would convert to the religion of owners who brutalized them?
• The English were responsible for most of the slave traffic into North America, but not all. This was illustrated in the recent hit movie, Amistad. What the movie did not show was that the leader of the slave uprising, Cinque, went back to Africa and himself became a big-time slave-trader. (The misrepresentation of historical reality never stops.)
1 We do not mean even remotely to suggest that any type of Protestantism is sufficient for salvation, for to deny just one doctrine of the true Faith, is to be out of the way of salvation. It can be said, though, that some false religions have more capacity than others for sustaining a respectable culture on the purely natural level. The closer a religion is to Catholicism, the more of this capacity it has.
2 The first Catholic to attain such rank in any American administration was in Davis’ cabinet. The first Jew, C.S.A. Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, was also a member.
3 The song Dixie, virtually the national anthem of the South, was written by a Catholic, Dan Emmet.