by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
Many Southern folks were, quite naturally, bitter after the War of Northern Aggression was formerly (if not actually) over and the Marxist/Abolitionist cultural pogrom called “reconstruction” was foisted upon them. They’d seen their country pillaged and burned by Yankee/Marxists during the war and now they were seeing the last ounce of blood being wrung from it via “reconstruction.” Although I’ve mentioned it before it’s worth noting again–the term “reconstruction” is really a Marxist term. When Karl Marx lavished praise on Abraham Lincoln, one of the things he praised him for was that he was fighting for “…the reconstruction of a social world.” So please, get it fixed in your minds that “reconstruction” in the South was really nothing more than Marxism in living color.
One bitter Southerner was a man named Innes Randolph, who penned the words to a song many of us unreconstructed folks know and enjoy, entitled Oh I’m a Good Old Rebel. After mentioning his hate for “the Yankee nation” and its flag and founding documents, Randolph closed his song with: I can’t take up my musket and fight ’em (the Yankees) now no more, but I ain’t gonna love ’em now, that is certain sure. I don’t want no pardon for what I was and am. I won’t be reconstructed and I don’t care a damn.
Whether you totally agree with all of Randolph’s comments and sentiments (some Southern folks don’t completely) is not the real He expressed a viewpoint that was, at least partially, natural to many after the war’s end. The wounds were not healed yet, it was way too soon for that–and “reconstruction” was never intended to heal them–then or today!
“Reconstruction” was put in place to do two things. First, it was to teach the Southerners that you don’t mess with the central, collectivist regime in Washington, because, from here on, that’s where the real power is for the forseeable future–the power we today refer to as The Deep State. This was the very dubious benefit of the North having won the war–they gave us the Deep State that all Swamp Creatures today know and love.
Second, it was to do exactly as Marx said–to reconstruct the social order of the Old South, their culture and their total worldview, and to remake it over into something in accord with the gosh-awful collectivist mentality of the North. The Marxist/abolitionist/reconstructionists realized they would have a problem doing that to any extent with the Southern soldiers who had just opposed them in the war, and so they didn’t spend much time trying to preach the gospel of Northern collectivism to them. Rather, they imported government schools in from the North and mentally savaged the “rebels’ children.”
That those movers and shakers in Sodom on the Potomac felt that centralized government was now the order of the day is evident from some of their comments. Just look at Thaddeus Stevens remarks about the “perpetual ascendency of the party of the Union.” If that wasn’t a call for a one party state then no one ever heard one. And then there was the comment by Senator Justin Morrill where he said: “The role of the national government is to mold the character of the American people.” You have to wonder whoever told him that! Comments such as those of Stevens and Morrill would make any Marxist, even today, just drool with anticipation–why these men though along the exact same lines as good old Uncle Karl (Marx). The Washington Establishment was, so it appeared, already heavily addicted to the heady wine of totalitarian centralized governance, that would spread its tentacles across the country, east to west, and run everyone’s life from one seat of central power. You can see why the concept of real states’ rights was anathema to those disciples of Marx, and why Reformed or orthodox Christianity was too. Those men totally embraced the Unitarian concept of the highest power belonging not to God, but to the State (nation). So if you wonder where the concept of today’s Deep State came from, look no further!
In 1866 the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction held hearings. Mind you, in many cases, these hearings were conducted within a year or less after the shooting part of the War was over. As with most congressional committees, much of what went on was an exercise in irrelevance. I have read a fair bit of the testimony presented in these hearings, though I probably need to go over some of it again–but at some point when I have a stronger stomach!
If you’ve ever wondered why some congressmen sound like perpetual candidates for a home in la-la land you can learn why from reading The Report Of The Joint Committee On Reconstruction. My copy is a reprint, printed in 1969, by Negro Universities Press, a division of Greenwood Publishing Corp. in New York. Some of the questions those august legislators asked might lead you to believe they were George Orwell’s spiritual grandfathers.
On February 7, 1866, the committee took testimony from one Charles Douglas Gray of August County, Virginia. Mr. Gray was examined by a Mr. Howard, who asked, among other questions: “Do you think that those persons in the county who took up arms against the United States are beginning to regret that they stuck at Uncle Sam?” Talk about leading questions! As for who “struck” at who first, the Southern perception of that would be much different than the standard abolitionist rhetoric that passes today for history. But, then, that difference was part of the reason for implementing “reconstruction” wasn’t it?
Howard then further questioned Mr. Gray: “How do rebels that have been pardoned there generally speak of the government of the United States–in terms of respect, or of contumely and defiance?” Come on now, how did Howard expect ex-Confederates to feel only ten month after hostilities had, in the main, ceased, warm and fuzzy toward their conquerors?
On February 8th, this same Mr. Howard examined M. D. Corse of Alexandria, Virginia. He put to Mr. Corse this question: “To use a common expression, do you think the secessionists generally love the government of the United States?” Folks, that had to be the dumbest question of the decade! Did Howard really expect that secessionists were going to have fallen in love with the U.S. government by early 1866? That unhappy result wouldn’t come for decades yet and when it did come, it would be the result of “reconstruction’s” mandated government school system in the South. When Dr. J. B. Johnson was asked by Howard: “Does the secession part of the people generally feel kindly toward the government of the United States” Johnson replied “They manifest no opposition.” Such an understated reply was remarkable for its restraint.
As you read through this testimony you find, again and again, that one of the basic questions these “reconstruction” inquisitors asked Southerners was “Do you love (Big Brother) the government of the United States?” Some of these Southern folks thusly questioned have to have laughed up their coatsleeves at being touted with such inane questions. This was the 19th century version of “Hey, the federal government has just shafted you and your family–don’t you just love us for it?”
However, some Southern replies to some of these questions were serious and more than a bit revealing–if you know the real history. A Jaquelin M. Wood was examined by Mr. Howard on February 9th and was asked the question: “How do they regard Robert E. Lee?” The answer was “They look upon him as the greatest man of the nation, and the best man…They often say they were conquered by numbers, by the influence of foreigners.” The question was also asked, and it was a leading question,–how did Southerners feel about the number of Yankee troops in the field. And the reply was “Yes; there was more than they calculated upon in the first place. They account for it by saying that Foreigners reinforced the Yankees…” Now where do you suppose those foreigners all were, and where did they come from? You don’t supposed some of them could have been the Marxist/socialist Forty-Eighters from Europe do you? Oh probably not–after all, our current “historians” hardly even mention “those people.”