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 Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2012 08:11 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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NEWS RELEASE
APOSTLES OF EQUALITY: THE BIRNEYS, THE REPUBLICANS AND THE CIVIL WAR
Atmosphere for Civil War was Prepared by European Cultural Attitudes, Earlier Midwest Conflicts, Says Author

A new book from Michigan State University Press, “Apostles of Equality: The Birneys, The Republicans, and The Civil War,” provides some insights into the causes of the war, tracing some to roots in Europe and Ireland.
“The culture created by dueling, a curse that stemmed from Irish and European practices, has not been fully recognized as a cause of the war,” says the author, D. Laurence Rogers. “Under political stress, Southern gentlemen like Jefferson Davis and Howell Cobb fell back on their cultural instincts that valued pride rather than compromise. Political disputes often escalated to duels in which one party might be maimed or killed over a disagreement that could have been settled peaceably. With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, there was no thought of negotiation but rather a consensus of fear in the South that Republicans would enforce an end to slavery. Thus a challenge much like that given in a duel was issued by bombardment of Fort Sumter -- and the war came.”
Northerners, by contrast, were partially motivated by campaign initiatives of the new Republican Party noting alleged Southern aims to enslave the working class, both white and black, according to the book. White slavery was a reality in that some slaves had much more white blood than black, but Southerners made no distinction, in fact adhering to the legal concept that one drop of black blood made a person a slave.
The need for aggressive and violent actions to control slaves, through slave catchers and slave patrols, resulted in invasions of the North long before the Civil War, the book points out. Slaveholding Kentuckians raided into Michigan beginning in 1807 and raids in the mid-1840s involved conflicts and arrests of the raiders in some cases.
“The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, crafted by duelist and slaveholder Senator Henry Clay, resulted from Kentuckians invading Michigan in attempts to retrieve escaped slaves several times from the early 1800s through the 1840s,” said Mr. Rogers. “Violent responses from egalitarian Michiganians to protect the escapees and punish the invaders caused a defensive reaction by Southern legislators leading to strengthening of the fugitive slave laws. Thus, the incendiary atmosphere for war was created by intersectional conflicts that should have been mediated in civil courts.”
The book also includes an exposition of the successes of the union’s U.S. Colored troops. Black soldiers led by major generals David Bell Birney and William Birney took the race far above the first tentative queries, “will they fight?” proven by Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, and other battles, to the glories of combat victories at New Market Heights, Richmond, Petersburg and Appomattox as well as destruction and confiscation of animals and goods in central Florida. These Southern-born Union leaders, perhaps because of their familiarity with slaves on plantations in Kentucky and Alabama, led by winning the confidence of their colored troops through egalitarian treatment – a concept vital to leadership in all organizations and enterprises, especially today.
“Apostles” traces the abolitionism of one the leading early antislavery politicians, James Gillespie Birney (1792-1857), a Kentucky native, to the spirit of freedom inherent in his Irish heritage. After years of indecision, Birney became an advocate of immediate emancipation and chipped away at slavery with religious and patriotic fervor.
As a state legislator in Kentucky and Alabama, Birney won state constitutional provisions ameliorating slavery. The Alabama Legislature began, under Birney’s influence, a process of voluntarily freeing a small number of slaves each year throughout the 1820s and 1830s.
”After the Nat Turner slave uprising in Virginia in 1831, and slave revolts in the Caribbean, the atmosphere changed and slave laws were tightened,” said Mr. Rogers. “From then until the Civil War, as one of James G. Birney’s sons, former Union Maj. Gen. William Birney, noted in an 1890 book, fear of servile insurrections drove Southern attitudes preparing the population for a more terrible conflict than any could have imagined.”
Four of Birney’s sons and a grandson served the Union and three sons died of disease during the war. The legacy of the Birneys lives on in the 14th Amendment, which led to the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision of 1954 resulting in desegregation of schools across the country.
Contact: MSU Press press07@msu.edu, or D. Laurence Rogers, 989-686-5544, dlaurencerogers@gmail.com.

Last edited on Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 12:33 pm by dlaurencerogers



 Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2012 11:43 pm
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dlaurencerogers-

  Your characterization of 1860 southern society (Or that of a reviewer of your book) seems to be that it consisted mainly of intractable slave-holding duelists. The implication seems to be that it was the unreasonable southerners who were to blame for the war, unlike the virtuous "Apostles of Equality" in the north.

  It is true that the election of Abraham Lincoln led directly to the secession of seven southern states. But it was also a fact that Mr. Lincoln was unwilling to accept secession. The southerners were willing to fight a war to become independent, and Mr. Lincoln was willing to fight a war to prevent them from doing so. It takes two sides who are willing to fight to result in a war being fought.

  By the mid 19th century, there was very little dueling going on anywhere in the U.S. It was outlawed in WDC in 1839, and laws (and their enforcement) varied from state to state. I am unaware of any duels that were actually fought by either Jefferson Davis or Howell Cobb (though Davis was challenged to a duel in 1853 by Judah Benjamin). Earlier in U.S. history when duels were more likely to take place, they occurred in other places besides the south, so attributing it mainly to be a southern tendency seems a stretch.

  The review assails the southerners' inability to compromise. Then it refers to the: "Duelist" Henry Clay. (He fought a duel in 1809 with Humphrey Marshall. Neither man suffered any significant injury). Clay was the famous Kentuckian who served as Speaker of the House and Secretary of State. He was dubbed: "The Great Compromiser" for engineering legislation that put off, but could not prevent the eventual war.


   The statement that southern laws made someone with one drop of black blood: "A slave" is an absurdity. It might have been the attitude of some southerners (as well as northerners) of the day that it made them all black. But if the statement relating to laws was true, then there would have been no free blacks in the southern states.

  In 1860, something like 11% of all blacks were free. The number in the south was about 262,000.  In the Upper South, many free blacks were skilled tradesmen.

  It is also a fact that thousands of black and mixed race people were slaveholders. The largest number of these was in LA, but many more were in places like SC, VA, and MD.

  Only a small percentage of southerners owned slaves. And northern states were certainly not free of slaves in the mid 19th century. Small numbers can be found listed in the 1840 Census in places like NY and PA, as well as CT, IL, IN, IA, NH, OH, RI, WI, and NJ. The last slaves actually freed (after the 13th Amendment was ratified) were in NJ.

  Also mentioned is James G. Birney and the states of AL and KY. By comparison, slaves in AL were freed by the middle of 1865 by military occupation, but in KY some 40,000 were held until after the 13th Amendment was ratified in December of 1865. The institution of slavery actually died outside of the borders of the CSA some six months after the last Confederates in the southern states gave up.

  Its difficult for me to credit the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 to being: "The legacy of the Birneys." There were a lot more people involved than that. Giving them credit for a USSC decision in 1954 is an even greater stretch.

  In addition, I would point out that the black MA regiment that attacked Ft. Wagner was the 54th MA, not the 45th. I am also unaware of any "glorious victories" won by the Union forces in central Florida. (They did do considerable damage to property). The two largest battles that took place in Florida were Olustee, near Lake City, in 1864, and Natural Bridge, near Tallahassee, in 1865. Both were Confederate victories.

Last edited on Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 04:33 am by Texas Defender



 Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 05:38 am
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There's another problem with the Fort Wagner comments is that the 2nd Battle of Fort Wagner took place July 18, 1863. That's the battle being refered to in

Black soldiers led by major generals David Bell Birney and William Birney took the race far above the first tentative queries, “will they fight?” proven by the 45th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner, South Carolina,

Well the problem is that by July 18, 1863 there was no 45th Mass. The 45th Massachusetts had been mustered out ten days before the battle took place.(http://www.massachusettscivilwar.com/) That's still three days before the First Battle of Fort Wagner. Also, it was Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who led the the 54th Mass.



 Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 09:44 am
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dlaurencerogers
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Thank you for your opinions and corrections Texas Defender and Hellcat! The main factor examined in this book that has been ignored by historians is that the leader of the abolitionists, and putative founder of the Republican Party, was from the South -- James G. Birney. And his Southern-born sons were much more prominent as Union Army leaders than historians have given them credit for, especially in recruiting and leading black troops that provided an extra 10 percent of manpower. Lincoln was willing to compensate slaveholders for their slaves but it seemed a fight was inevitable given the widespread and longstanding influence of the Code Duello (until after the War); its persistent effect is clear since Ky had a law banning it until just a few decades ago. :)



 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 09:17 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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Duke University law journals have published articles in the past 5-6 years that link the Brown v. Board decision to the 14th Amendment. The authors are Garrett Epps and Gerard Magliocca, both eminent law professors. These writers also assert the James G. Birney's representation of the Cherokee in Alabama and Georgia beginning in 1826 actually launched the abolition movement by calling attention to the injustice of government policy toward Native Americans. Of course Lincoln was unwilling to accept secession; that would have ended the country that so many had compromised to establish -- something Jefferson Davis and followers were not inclined to do. they also rejected Abe's offer to compensate slaveholders for their slaves. Your characterization of southerners as "intractable slave-holding duelists" has, in the light of these facts, some validity.



 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 01:24 am
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dlaurencerogers-

  I would maintain that the abolitionist movement was: "Launched" long before 1826, though it gained great strength in the 1830s and 1840s. More credit for that in my view should be given to such figures as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Theodore Dwight Weld than to the: "Reformed Kentucky slaveholder" James G. Birney. (Who owned slaves until 1834).

  American abolitionist movement 

 I would give Mr. Birney credit for making James K. Polk president by costing Henry Clay the 36 electoral votes of NY in the Election of 1844. But that is another story.

  As for the Cherokees (Many of whom owned black slaves), they were divided voluntarily and later uprooted involuntarily a few years after President Jackson refused to recognize the Supreme Court Decision Worcester v. Georgia (1832). It was the former Attorney General William Wirt who represented the Cherokees in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia.

  As for Mr. Lincoln's plans to offer compensation to slaveholders- they were never accepted in the northern or border states. Many abolitionists, such as Mr. Garrison himself, strongly opposed the idea. Mr. Lincoln tried at various times but got nowhere. (Except in the case of Washington, DC, in 1862).

Compensated Emancipation - Abraham Lincoln

  In his famous letter to James Conkling (26 August 1863), Mr. Lincoln reminds some of his unhappy fellow Unionists that they opposed the idea of compensated emancipation (See paragraph beginning with: "To be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the negro." ).

Abraham Lincoln's Letter to James Conkling

  As with Mr. Lincoln's unsuccessful plans to export blacks to places such as Central America and to the Caribbean, compensated emancipation plans were generally a great failure. Slaveholders in the states that seceded were never put in the position to have to consider the question. Your contention that Mr. Lincoln's plans failed because southerners rejected the idea is inaccurate.

  The idea that mainstream southerners were: "Intractable slaveholding duelists" was one of a number of caricatures of them, having no basis in fact. It is not my characterization. It is the one seen in your first posting on this thread. Such things were popular with certain journalists of that day as well as some that came later. It seems that you would have fit right in as one of them.

Last edited on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 04:01 am by Texas Defender



 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 12:37 pm
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Bringing all the anti-slavery forces together under one political tent was Birney's idea that eventually came to fruition with the Republicans. Garrison opposed political action and wanted the North to secede. William Wirt defended the Cherokee in court long after Birney had left Alabama, but it was Birney who had the courage to stand up for a mistreated group of Native Americans when it was unpopular. I am happy to fit in with the journalists of the Civil War era, because many of them were right and facts are facts, thank you.



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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 06:43 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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Dear Alabama Student of the Conflict: Revisionist history? Exactly; history that sorely needs revising after the propaganda of the past 140 years. Most southerners were poor to middle class non-slaveholders, but you know they did not dare to buck the tide of secessionist umbrage over the election of Lincoln. Some did, especially in Georgia, and many paid the price. Then, as now, we can't run a country with two halves pulling different ways and refusing to compromise. :D



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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 07:06 pm
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dlaurencerogers-

  You are absolutely right that: "Facts are facts." I believe that the true facts will show that you have a penchant for making factual errors, as well as grandiose claims about the importance of the Birneys.

  Lets examine some of the: "Facts" that you have put forth so far. First of all, you asserted that the 45th MA assaulted Ft. Wagner. You didn't know that it was the 54th, or who its commander was. Second, you claimed that Union troops won: "Great victories" in Central Florida, when they lost the only two significant battles that took place there. These inaccuracies were edited out of your original posting, and other modifications were made, but only after the errors were called to your attention by Hellcat and myself.

  One ridiculous assertion remains in your original posting, which is that southerners considered that one drop of black blood made one : "A slave." To many in that time, one drop of black blood made a person BLACK, but not a slave. As previously pointed out, there were many free blacks living in the states that seceded in 1860 and 1861. Some of them actually owned black slaves themselves.

  In another posting, you claimed that James G. Birney is considered the founder of the new Republican Party. Many people were involved with that, and if any person should be considered the founder, it would be Alvan E. Bovay. Bovay was an attorney in Ripon, WI, having arrived in 1850. As early as 1852, he visited Horace Greeley in NYC and proposed that a new political party be formed. He also proposed that it be called the: "Republican" Party. Mr. Greeley was supportive of the idea (He also claimed to have proposed the name: "Republican.")

  Historians generally consider that the new Republican Party was formed on February 28, 1854 in a meeting in the Congregational Church in Ripon, WI. At that time, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was being considered in Congress. Bovay called for a new party to be formed (Based on the sole issue of slavery) if the Act passed. It did, and the plan went forward. (Alvan Bovay later served as a major in the 19th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry).

Wisconsin and the Republican Party - Wisconsin Historical Society

Alvin Bovay-A Founder Of The Republican Party | Grand Old Party

  In one of your postings, you claimed that a fight was inevitable because of the duelist qualities of men like Jefferson Davis and Howell Cobb (Neither of whom actually fought any duels). But in reality, the southerners would have been happy to achieve their independence without having to fight for it. To this end, the new Provisional Confederate Government sent peace commissioners to WDC in March of 1861. Their mission was to attempt to purchase federal property in the seceded states. They were rebuffed by Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward.

  In the north at this time, there was considerable sentiment to let the: "Wayward sisters" leave peacefully. That of course ended after Ft. Sumter was attacked. As I have said many times on this forum, the wise course for the Confederates in SC was to wait until April 15th, when Major Anderson told them that he would have to leave the fort due to lack of provisions.

  As for your claim that James G. Birney: "Represented" the Cherokees- I can find no reference for him acting as an attorney representing the Cherokee Nation. When William Wirt was defending the Cherokees before the Supreme Court in 1831 and 1832, Birney was still a slaveholder. Still, you claim that it was he who: "Launched" the Abolitionist Movement, beginning in 1826. He did not free his slaves and announce that he was an abolitionist until 1834. Other prominent figures were in the: "Movement" long before then.

  The issue of Mr. Lincoln's attempts to advance compensated emancipation I believe have been covered adequately in my previous posting. As previously stated, Mr. Lincoln could make no headway with that idea with the powerful people in the northern or border states. Attempting to blame this on: "Jefferson Davis and his followers" is an absurdity.

  When you continually make factual errors, it tends to damage the credibility of anything that you might say after that. You seem to be a person who is often wrong, but never in doubt. If you are an educator in the field of history, then I feel sorry for the students, and also for the parents and/or taxpayers who are funding their education.

 



 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 07:22 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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Dear Texas: Thanks for your opinions. Obviously we could continue this indefinitely. My conclusions on the importance of Birney are, I believe, well supported by eminent scholars cited in the notes of the book. They are not entirely my own. As our back-and-forth discussion verifies, history is an inexact process and the historiography of the Civil War has been muddled by propaganda that, it seems, stems mainly from southerners attempting to justify secession. Any political figure, like Birney, a reformed slaveholder and thus a traitor to his kind, who showed sympathy for slaves will never win praise in that arena. That is exactly the reason for the book; to show that the way of life we all enjoy under the Constitution resulted from the courage of leaders who did not flow with the tide of racism and white supremacy of the day.



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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 08:16 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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Interesting viewpoint with perhaps some validity.:D:D



 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2012 08:32 pm
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dlaurencerogers
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Errors in this kind of discussion are in the eye of the beholder. The propaganda about the righteousness of the Southern cause has been almost unceasing since the war. The devil's bargain originally made in the Constitution over human rights still haunts us. The following quote from the Encyclopedia of Southern Literature sums up the conflict: "In 1866, Edward Pollard wrote a Confederate history of the Civil War entitled The Lost Cause in which he claimed that, although the South must “submit fairly and truthfully to what the war has properly decide,” the southern culture would carry on its beliefs (Pollard 752). Pollard’s assertion that the South would maintain its ideas turns out to be true. The South systematically attempted to wrest moral victory out of military defeat by writing its own history of the Civil War. This revisionist history of the Civil War is known as Lost Cause ideology."



 Posted: Wed Sep 5th, 2012 12:35 am
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Well played Mr. Rodgers. While I've not read your work, it seems to present a reasonable argument based on the current historiographic debates and its published by a very reputable publisher. It's worth remembering that ALL history is really an argument based on evidence. If history isn't "revisionist" its not worth doing. Best of luck with your book!

Mark



 Posted: Wed Sep 5th, 2012 01:04 am
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dlaurencerogers
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Thanks much, Mark.:D



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