More About Stanton The Radical

by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

It would seem, from his commentary about others, that Stanton had an inflated concept of his own abilities. He was definitely not a practitioner of the Christian virtue of having a meek and humble spirit (James 4:6). He often spoke abusively of Lincoln and others in the administration. He referred to Lincoln as “the original gorilla. After becoming Secretary of War his disposition toward Lincoln did not improve. At one point he said to Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, Well, all I have to say is, we’ve got to get rid of that baboon at the White House!

W. C. Prime, who did a biographical sketch of General McClellan that was in McClellan’s book, said that the abolition of slavery was really a war measure. McClellan’s success in 1862 would have been disastrous to the plans of Radical Republicans, Shoud the Union have been restored at that point, the plans of the radicals would have come to naught. Therefore, McClellan could not be allowed to succeed.

Prime’s assessment of Stanton was interesting. He said: “Mr. Stanton was a lawyer of moderate abilities, a man of peculiar mental constitution. Without moral principle or sense of personal honor, he was equally ready to change front in public politics and to betray private friendship, and was therefore eminently suited to the purposes for which he was selected by the men with whom he had formed a secret alliance…Those who knew him were in the habit of describing him as one of those who ‘always kick down the ladder by which they have climbed.’ His ambition was unbounded and his self-reliance absolute.”

Part of Stanton’s problem with McClellan may well have been McClellan’s view of government, which was probably built on McClellan’s Christian faith. According to McClellan: “The only safe policy is that the general government be strictly confined to the general powers and duties vested in it by the old constitution, while the individual states preserve all the sovereign rights and powers retained by them when the constitutional compact was formed.” Such a view was hardly entertained by the denizens of the Lincoln administration and may well explain why McClellan had to go not too far down the road.

Needless to say, this viewpoint was anathema to someone like Stanton. According to the book The Lincoln Conspiracy  by David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier Jr., Stanton, as Secretary of War, controlled the nation’s military news through nationalization of the telegraph wires. He controlled the transportation system. His control over the lives of private citizens was said to be almost complete. Even President Lincoln was denied the right to see telegrams that came to the War Department.

According to The Lincoln Conspiracy  the United States was perilously close to dictatorship in 1864. The authors noted: “All the elements were in motion: transportation and communication were nationalized, the writ of habeas corpus suspended, military tribunals had replaced civilian trials. Thousands of people were jailed without charge and held without trial. Dictatorship was an evil lurking behind the scenes. The name of the would-be dictator was not discernable to the public.”

Some have claimed the President Lincoln was a would-be dictator. Clinton Rossiter wrote a book, Presidential Dictatorship, in which he pointed to Lincoln as the one that fulfilled such a role. While no one can argue that Lincoln usurped power while he was president, it might seem more appropriate to assign the role of true dictator to the one who was in a position to deny Lincoln access to information that came into the War Department. That man was Edwin Stanton.

Lafayette Baker, (another sterling individual that was no saint), head of the Secret Service (police), said in his cipher-coded manuscript: “I admit my hatred and contempt for Edwin M. Stanton, but I also swear that what I am saying is true. Stanton felt Lincoln, Johnson, and Seward would have to be executed. He told me it would be done quite legally, and in the proper manner for such officials.” Baker was a notorious liar, so whether Stanton actually said this to him or not may be up for grabs. However, you must admit that it does seem to be in keeping with Stanton’s mentality.

When General McClellan pointed out his opinion that emancipation should be accomplished gradually, and that blacks should be prepared for it via education, recognition of the rights of family, marriage, etc., he ran afoul of the Radical Republicans who had another agenda. When McClellan pointed some of this out to Senator Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts radical, Sumner replied that such points did not concern him, and that all that must be left to take care of itself. In other words, let’s just go ahead and do this, kick the can down the road, and let someone else worry about all the nasty details.

Sumner’s attitude was strongly akin to that of the Leftist radicals in the 1960s, who felt that it was perfectly okay to tear society down with no clear picture of what to replace it with. Needless to say, those that financed the Leftist radicals and orchestrated their efforts, definitely had an idea of what to replace society with, and they are still working on that. From what I have seen of their efforts so far, I am not impressed.

Unlike our latter-day radicals, though, Sumner, Stanton, Thaddeus Stevens, and their Radical associates did have something in store for a defeated South, almost a kind of reverse slavery as it were, with uneducated blacks being given the immediate vote and white man having all rights taken away from them. This was a situation guaranteed to produce racial animosity. That was the name of the game in the South.

There were theological changes in the wind, too, but these were not as readily discernable yet. That would take another five years or so.

More to come, so hang in there.

1 thought on “More About Stanton The Radical

  1. Hi Al, was reading your masterpiece for the I do not know many times the other day, about Liberty and centralism, and Gary North’s great outlier, Conspiracy in Philadelphia.
    I save a lot of posts that strike me as “masterpieces” written in humility by Freemen. I put them in simple text form, makes it easy to search months or years later.
    This gent below sadly passed a few years ago. I always enjoyed his blog like I enjoy yours. Had not read it in a couple years, thought of you, figured you would appreciate it.
    I sure do. Being a copperhead as yourself it holds a special place in my mind and heart.

    (I have another great masterpiece by another, whose work has been memory holed. The title is What Are Unalienable Rights? Be pleased to post it for you. I find it is one of the better definitions. I suspect too, it was the trigger post that caused the members of the human extinction movement over at converged WordPress to ban my dirt people blog. Too much White Men of The West Nationalism)
    We can’t have that now:-)


    -from Spillers of Soup

    The Appalachian Option:
    Everyone thinks they know what the “real and for true” Appalachia is and where it is. Traced to its source, opinion is mostly derived from Hollywood, or local chambers of commerce, or deeply serious television documentaries with a not very hidden agenda peddled by standard issue collectivists. The colorful stuff is recycled drivel from the ’60s War on Poverty and the Depression era—mainly the FSA’s preferred version of things at the time, now solemnly intoned as if some sort of bona fides. It’s entertaining and cloying and folksy, yes, but about as valid as Goebbels’s volkische nonsense.

    While the core cultural norms of Appalachia are remarkably unvarying and, it must be said, remarkably unloved elsewhere, the physical landscape varies considerably. For our purpose “mountainous Appalachia” consists of the Appalachian, Cumberland and Allegheny mountains, the spine of greater Appalachia. The topography outside this area, although rugged, is not properly “mountainous”. But be aware, the term “Appalachian Plateau” is misleading, you’ll find impressive hill country in those so-called plateaus and they offer a viable, less severe alternative to mountainous Appalachia.

    With the near certainty of a historic calamity in our lifetime, there’s a movement to withdraw from public life, described variously as “going off grid” or “going Galt” or by the repurposed Korean War expression for retreat, “bug out.” The idea is to establish an autonomous, defended sanctuary—the military term is redoubt, where they can survive the coming collapse as a community, preserve the ideals of the republic and offer them to a chastened America when the noise and mayhem subsides. Any such redoubt ideally has natural barriers to unwanted large scale incursions, so attention has largely fixed on the northwest quadrant of the nation, minus the wholly compromised collectivist coastal regions. This American Redoubt is sufficiently remote and demanding to be spectacularly unattractive to the less than wholly committed, much less to the ambitious but misinformed invader.

    Some of the redoubt-minded have lately turned their attention to Appalachia, and there’s much to recommend it. Mountainous Appalachia presents any incursion with steep and heavily wooded terrain, caves and rocky ridges, gorges, and fast-running water with only widely separated bridges. Even experienced woods trekkers from outside are impressed by its ruggedness, always nearly vertical, often literally so. Its roads are chokepoints for much of their length and not a few end nowhere in particular. Attempts by armed invaders to resupply their trigger-pullers would be supplying the defenders much of the time.

    Managers of campgrounds and similar tourist attractions will tell you urban and suburban people are, to put it plainly, afraid of dense woodlands, afraid of the dark, and afraid of animals. Worse, without streets and signs and landmarks, they get lost easily. Stupid-panicky lost. In mountainous Appalachia almost no destination can be approached directly, and if a detour of convenience is carelessly done, getting lost is assured. In full foliage it offers sightlines of a hundred yards or less, mostly “or less,” defying easy orienteering with compass and map. In the cold months where visibility is comparatively good, the sameness of the ridges, receding to the horizon in parallel ranks, can defeat the casual navigator just as surely.

    If an invader were other than a violent but disorganized horde, if it were one relying on gee-whiz military equipment, the terrain itself limits the opportunity for combined arms operations and mechanized maneuvers. It would be mostly close-in, small unit actions akin to jungle warfare. The long-range sniper would find only occasional employment here, it’s ground for the marksman practiced in woodcraft and stalking. Add a working knowledge of the territory and the tactics of the irregular and he has an insurmountable advantage in any otherwise equal confrontation. Few things demoralize would-be occupiers like ceaseless, unanswerable attrition.

    Water, a favorite theme for survivalist writers, is a major worry for those in the “weather shadow” of the mountainous west, and much of the high country east of them. So too is water a problem in mountainous Appalachia, but it’s one of oversupply. The place is laced with creeks and waterfalls and rivers, dotted with weeps and springs, ponds, reservoirs and small lakes. During the warm season the air is humid to the point of a perpetual mist, it’s how the Great Smoky Mountains got their name. Condensation drips from the trees on many mornings. Add to this the storms that barrel in from the west and south, lashing the mountains with torrential rain or, in the winter, with sleet and snow. Water is more likely to be inconvenient than scarce.

    These are some advantages of mountainous Appalachia as a defensible redoubt. But those who know Appalachia as tourists have a false picture of the high, remote areas. The mountains of Appalachia are sparsely populated for a reason, it’s challenging country with a long list of drawbacks and not a few dangers.

    Stinging nettles, brambles and poison ivy are common, as is the inviting but poisonous pokeberry, life-threatening to small adults and children. Then there’s giant hogweed, currently invasive and gaining ground, truly nasty stuff. The black (or Mississauga) rattlesnake inhabits upper Appalachia from western New York state into West Virginia. Copperheads and timber rattlesnakes are found throughout Appalachia, eastern diamondbacks in Georgia and North Carolina, pygmy rattlesnakes in Tennessee and south.

    Add to this packs of feral pigs and wild boar in eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina the Great Smoky Mountains and south. They’re fondest of what’s called Plantation Appalachia, but they’ve been reported as far north as central Pennsylvania. A wild boar averages 350 pounds, but some outliers are double that. Should they charge they’re quick and agile, intent on spearing your lower body with their bayonet-like tusks. They’re also persistent, should they put you down they attack again and again until they’re convinced you’re no longer a threat.

    Black Bears are found throughout Appalachia. They typically go 300 pounds or so but some get into the 400 to 500 range. Black bears are normally shy and retiring but not always. A black bear will tear your camp apart to find a morsel you didn’t even know was there. Fishermen seem to set off their dinner bell too. Veteran woodsmen say debilitated or old males pose a bigger threat than a momma with cubs, but this sort of thing remains unproven, mainly for want of volunteers. Or perhaps, survivors. Prudence is warranted in either case, and the larger caliber the prudence the better. Just to round things out, there are rabid animals, packs of feral dogs, animals with the mange, ticks that carry Lyme Disease, and so on, as in most country settings.

    Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets make their nests both above ground and underground, and all are plentiful in Appalachia. For locals, this is near the top of the threat list because it’s the most likely threat. Disturb their nest and they’ll swarm and sting fifty times or more before you can get away. This is true well into the cold months, at least for what we call “white face” hornets. Ask me how I know this. Several people die each year from such stings, usually because they’re too remote for timely help. Appalachia also has the usual nuisances; mosquitoes, red imported fire ants and what we call “three corner flies” among them.

    Mountainous Appalachia isn’t Amish country except with higher hills. Yes, farming areas exist, and they offer white-tailed deer and wild hogs for the larder, but hunting is only ‘fair’ at elevation. Most plentiful are shotgun game; turkey and ruffed grouse for two. Yes, the climate is mostly agreeable rather than life-threatening, as weather in the interior northwest often is, but it’s equally comfy for a long list of nasty plants and critters, some of which will gladly demonstrate your real place in the food chain.

    “Them thar hills” aren’t uninhabited either. The term “suspicious of strangers” falls short in ways hard to anticipate. Should you decide mountainous Appalachia offers what you’re looking for, the usual advice applies: know what you’re getting into, then ensconce yourself in advance of the need, but be aware, residency of one or two generations may not be enough for acceptance. For instance, your property will be known by the name of its previous owner, i.e., “the old Jones place.”

    Appalachia may be the last functioning meritocracy of any size, as the term used to be understood. And you’ll discover towns are run down because they aren’t the center of the social order, or of much else other than themselves. The real social order is not the apparent social order. This stuff is difficult to explain, it has to be learned. What it comes down to is: you need them, they don’t need you. This may be the steepest hill you’ll have to climb. ”

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