Powell Clayton and More Marxist “Reconstruction”

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

Anyone who has read even a fair amount of the history of the War of Northern Aggression–the United States’ first step on the road to a world empire–as well as some of the history of the Kansas/Missouri border troubles before and during that war, will have at least a nodding acquaintance with the Fifth Kansas Cavalry. This was a rather dubious Yankee outfit made up of Kansas Red Legs and various other “looters and pillagers.”  It’s commander was one James H. Lane, the chief looter and pillager of Missouri. Lane and his federally legitimized pillagers had a decidedly Marxist view of any and all Southern private property. They “liberated” what they could carry off and destroyed the rest.

I could write pages and pages about “Mad Dog Jim Lane” and his erstwhile Red Leg companions and their sordid attempts to “preserve the Union” and line their  own pockets as well, but that will have to wait for another time. This present reference to the “glorious” Fifth Kansas Cavalry has been made so that I might introduce to my readers the person of  Powell Clayton, who, interestingly enough, was first a lieutenant colonel, and later a full colonel in the infamous Kansas Fifth. After fighting a battle in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in October of 1863, which his forces won, Clayton was made a brigadier general in August of 1864.

Clayton either seems to have liked Arkansas or else he recognized the potential financial opportunities there. He bought a farm (some say a plantation) in Jefferson County and he stayed.

As Marxist “reconstruction” came into full bloom in the devastated South, Clayton was elected the first Republican governor of Arkansas. According to an internet article on Wikipedia “His tenure was marked with soaring state debt (despite a state surplus when he took office), corruption and violence…Many members of his administration and colleagues in his party were brought up on corruption charges while he was governor. Clayton himself was impeached at one point, but was never formally convicted of a crime. He was involved with the tampering of a US senate election between Thomas Boles and John Edwards.” How very typical for a “reconstruction” government in the South. And it sounds much like both Republican and Democratic administrations in our own day. Business as usual, and the public be damned–they are only sheep to be shorn! Supposedly he worked to improve the infrastructure of the state with railroads, levees, and unified school system (a government school system), however  “…the means he used to raise money for these projects was often controversial and probably led to the state debt.” One might be led to wonder if the term “controversial” employed here was a charitable term for “dishonest.”

As was often done, Wikipedia and other politically correct sources continue to whitewash monstrous “reconstruction” policies and their perpetrators, usually blaming “white racism” for all the problems instead of the corrupt politicians. They persist in painting the “reconstruction” crooks as noble beings that stepped in to stem the “racist” tide and in so doing restored peace, justice and domestic tranquility. Anyone believing this hogwash deserves to be duped. In many cases the “reconstruction” policies were what caused much of the problem to begin with. And let’s don’t kid ourselves or others–“reconstruction” in the South was really deconstruction.

Claude Bowers, in his book The Tragic Era has given us a little more realistic picture than have some more current sources. In describing Powell Clayton, Bowers began at the war’s end.  He noted: “The fighting had taken him into Arkansas and when the firing ceased  he settled on a plantation and remained. From that point of vantage he cunningly studied the situation,  and at the psychological moment he grasped his opportunity.  Gathering the Negroes and carpetbaggers behind him, he seized on power. Coldly calculating, unsympathetic to suffering, autocratic, impatient of opposition or restraint,  he ruled for three years as an absolute monarch.” One might wonder if he ever paid for the plantation he remained on. But I digress! Bowers continued: “He knew his game. Clayton’s policy was extermination…His was the mastermind that organized the Republican Party in Arkansas, that directed the framing of the constitution, making a despot of the Governor; and he took the governorship. He waved his wand, and a system emerged that destroyed civil liberty, and reduced overwhelming majorities to impotency. This Clayton system reserved the loaves and fishes for the carpetbaggers alone.” And Bowers further noted, as if to confirm for the doubters “Nowhere such concentration of power as in the hands of Clayton.” It’s easy to see what this Yankee/Marxist egomaniac was all about–personal power and self-aggrandizement.

Bowers noted that, when honest people protested what was being done to them and their families, Clayton “evoked the sword.” His “militia” was totally an instrument of his party and his followers and hangers-on wanted a militia that would “strike early and strike hard” and steal as much as they could in the process. Negroes were not only enlisted but armed–all with Washington’s approval, thus ensuring that class struggle would be used to drive a wedge between the races so that no real attempt at reconciliation between them would emerge. You have to realize that this planned hatred between the races was all by design.

The Northern newspapers had been spoon-fed all manner of stories about “outrages” in Arkansas, and so the stage was set when Clayton decided to proclaim martial law. Bowers observed: “Soon the proclamation of martial law; soon two thousand undisciplined Negroes (the militia) were preying on the people of ten counties, stealing, arresting, imprisoning, executing, looting houses, and occasionally violating women. Clayton was soon sending the officers lists of men to be arrested, with the comment that many of them would be executed.” Even the editor of the Daily Republican who had protested at first, until the governor decided to cancel his state printing contracts, ended up stating: “We’ll make Arkansas Republican or a waste howling wilderness.” Of course such history has all been changed now. Bowers is definitely out of vogue among our current crop of Marxist “historians.”

Marxist “historian” Eric Foner looked at this same situation in his book Reconstruction–America’s Unfinished Revolution and stated, on page 440 that: “Clayton placed ten counties under martial law at the end of 1868 and dispatched a state militia composed of blacks and scalawags (usually in segregated units) and commanded by former Gen. Robert F. Catterson. Scores of suspected Klansmen were arrested, three were executed after trials by military courts, and numerous others fled the state. By early 1869 order had been restored and the Klan destroyed.” Notice Foner’s “order had been restored.” Realizing any Marxist “historians” penchant for stretching the truth to fit the Marxist agenda, I think I will take Bowers’ word for what really happened rather than Foner’s.

Clayton’s political militia, whose sole aim was to “perpetuate the party of ascendency” (the Republican Party) in Arkansas, cost the good people of that state $330,676.43–and for what? To finance their own cultural destruction! Do you begin now to wonder why the “solid South” voted Democrat for around a hundred years?

Thanks to the carpetbaggers’ use of blacks as their cannon fodder, not only in Arkansas, but in most areas of the South, race relations in the South remained mostly sour going into the middle of the 20th century–just long enough so that the cultural Marxists and their political cousins could then use the emerging “civil rights” movement as yet another vehicle to promote class struggle that has continued unto this day. Unfortunately, this has not ended–and “reconstruction” in this country has continued–they just don’t call it that anymore.


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