Secession Wasn’t Treason. It Still Isn’t

by Al Benson Jr.

Secession and the knee-jerk reactions to it have been of interest to me ever since I started doing historical research. Yankee/Marxist politicians, in 1861, sought to portray secession by the Southern states as the most monstrous of crimes ever perpetrated on the human race. The fact that some Northern states had threatened secession and actually sent delegates to Hartford, Connecticut in 1814 to consider the issue was a historical fact that was lost on them, and they hoped on everyone else too. Somehow, when the Northern states considered it, it was not treason. That was only the case when Southern states did it.

Between 1814 and 1860, secession went from being a favored possibility to a horrendous crime, most notably if the South did it. Even, and especially, in our day, many of our crop of “historians” absolutely howl about how secession was treason and how the Confederate States were seeking to overthrow the United States government–all of which is complete bovine fertilizer–and don’t think they don’t know it. All the Southern states wanted were to be able to go in peace. They had no interest whatever in overthrowing the federal government in Washington; they just wanted to depart and set up their own government. However, Mr. Lincoln and his erstwhile collectivist friends couldn’t allow that, as the Southern states paid the lion’s share of the tariff for the whole country and if they were allowed to depart, why the Northern states might have to start ponying up their share of the tariff because the South would no longer be there to pay over 80% of it.

When the shooting part of the War of Northern Aggression was over and the Confederate States, which never officially surrendered, by the way, were in ruins, the benevolent Yankee/Marxist government took Jeff Davis, who, with his cabinet, had fled rather than surrender, and they tossed him into prison at Fortress Monroe in Virginia for two years, planning at the outset to bring him to trial for treason and secession, which they claimed were one in the same. After two years of prisoner abuse and political horseplay, the Union government finally decided, rather reluctantly, that it could not afford to bring Davis to trial because, should that event transpire, it might well be proven in court that Davis and the South had been right–secession was not at all illegal, nor was it unconstitutional. After all, what did they think the Declaration of Independence was other than a secession document?

Several years back now, 1995 I think it was, I wrote a short 26 page booklet on secession. It has since become one of the booklets I offer in my home school mini-history course. In that booklet I quoted an author, James Street, who had written a book entitled simply “The Civil War.” Mr. Street had a few comments about what happened to Jeff Davis at the end of the War. He said: “The North didn’t dare give him a trial, knowing that a trial would establish that secession was not unconstitutional, that there had been no ‘rebellion’ and that the South had got a raw deal.” You can’t say it much plainer than that.

Later, I picked up another book, written by Burke Davis (no relative to Jeff that I know of), entitled “The Long Surrender.” It dealt with much of what happened with the people involved during the final days of the Confederacy, when Richmond fell, and Jeff Davis and the Confederate government fled the city and tried to set up somewhere else in order that they might carry on the struggle.

After Jeff Davis was captured, the vindictive and radical Yankee/Marxist Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, (who many feel may have known more about the Lincoln assassination than is admitted) wanted to implicate Davis both as a co-conspirator in Lincoln’s assassination and as a traitor for being the head of the secessionist government in Richmond, even though secession had not been original with Davis. Try as they might, the radical leftist Republicans in Washington couldn’t quite bring it off. Burke Davis noted, on page 204 of his book, a quote by Chief Justice Salmon P Chase, telling Stanton “If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion…His (Jeff Davis’) capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason. Secession is settled. Let it stay settled.” Only it wasn’t–and isn’t. Burke Davis continued on page 214 of his book, noting that a congressional committee proposed a special court for Davis’ trial, headed by Franz Lieber. Again, Davis noted: “After studying more than 270,000 Confederate documents seeking evidence against Davis, this court discouraged the War Department: ‘Davis will be found not guilty,’ Lieber reported, ‘and we shall stand there completely beaten’.”

What the radical, Yankee/Marxist politicians were admitting among themselves (they’d never say it anywhere else) was that they had just fought a “civil war” that had taken or maimed the lives of over 600,000 Americans, both North and South, and that they had no constitutional justification whatever for having done so, nor had they any constitutional right to have impeded the Southern states when they chose to withdraw from the constitutional compact. They had fought solely for the right to keep an empire together. Call is “Manifest Destiny” or whatever noble-sounding euphemism you want to tack onto it, either way, they had been wrong. Now they could ill afford to let Jeff Davis go to trial, else their grievous crime would become public knowledge and beget them even more problems in the future, and that would have given them problems as they sought to redistribute among their friends whatever wealth remained in the South.

Needless to say, you probably have not read about any of this in what passes for “history” books in the last 150 years. As the narrator at the beginning of the movie “Braveheart” so correctly stated: “History is written by those who’ve hanged heroes.”

Real human rights in both North and South had been trampled on, and have continued to be up until and including today. What the Lincoln administration and early Marxist Republicans started and kept up during “reconstruction” has finally come to full fruition in our day, with such legislation as the “Patriot Act” and Obamacare, which effectively cancel out much of the Bill of Rights–as was intended and still is.

The War of Northern Aggression started the trend in this country in which leftist politicians have ever sought to usurp the rights of individual Americans, and to rule over us rather than to represent us as they were originally delegated to do. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. And now, with secessionist sentiment running rampant all over the world, the politicians are getting a bit nervous.

If you want some of the real history of that period in this country I would recommend James and Walter Kennedy’s book “The South Was Right,” Frank Conner’s book “The South Under Siege–1830-2000,” and Walter Kennedy’s and my book “Lincoln’s Marxists.”

The Hanging Of Mary Surratt–Judicial murder and government dirty linen–part two

by Al Benson Jr.

The “trial” of Mary Surratt and the Lincoln conspirators is still something that is debated about even today. If you want to see some of the arguments, check out the Internet. I read several articles awhile back about the involvement of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the man who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg. Mudd claimed he did not know Booth. He was still sent to the Dry Torgugas as a prisoner. Others have claimed that Mudd “was in it up to his eyeballs.” So the argument is anything but settled.

The question has arisen–was it even a legal trial or not?  Reverdy Johnson, Mrs. Surratt’s first attorney, had contended that the military court that tried the conspirators was without proper authority to do so as long as the civil courts were sitting.  This is something that was argued for nearly a century and I’ll bet you could get a heated debate about it still going in some quarters. In my opinion, Reverdy Johnson was correct. The war was over and the civil courts in the Union were all functioning and intact, so there was no reason to try this as a military case–unless it had been decided from on high that the real facts in this case should never be made public to the American people. We have already noted that Stanton wanted to make sure that Mrs. Surratt communicated with no one before she was hung. Great lengths were gone to in order to prevent that. It has also been contended in some circles that, had the trial taken place in a civil court, Mrs. Surratt would have been exonerated. You had a regime in Washington under Stanton and the revolutionary radicals in Congress that, basically, did whatever it wanted to–just like today. The Marxist regime currently in power does what it wants to. If Congress won’t pass Obama’s radical legislation he just writes an executive order and does an end run around the Congress while they sit there apparently stupified after he has presented them a fait accompli. Congress rails and complains about it–all for public consumption–because they know they will not fight it but they want to give the appearance of having done so–after all, there’s an election coming up next year.

Assistant Judge Advocate Bingham argued against this rationale and for what amounted to Stanton’s rationale for  a military trial: the “rebellion” itself was considered to be a gigantic conspiracy, (a vast right-wing conspiracy?), with Jefferson Davis as the arch-conspirator.  The official Washington line was that Lincoln, the Commander-in-Chief, had been assassinated by people directly connected to Jeff Davis and the Confederacy, and so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah. Current establishment “historians” are busily attempting to resurrect this 19th century attempt at political correctness. Many “historians” love a good myth parading as fact.

Theodore Roscoe in The Web of Conspiracy took note of historical opinion when he said: “By and large, history’s consensus is that Mrs. Surratt was not guilty as charged. Which is to say she knew nothing of the assassination plot and was in no way an active participant or intentional accessory. Did she carry messages from (John Wilkes) Booth to innkeeper Lloyd, and deliver to the Surratt tavern Booth’s binoculars? Possibly, even probably. But she could have done so in all innocence, merely to oblige Mr. Booth. And even if one assumes she suspected some underground project were afoot, nothing in the trial evidence proved she knew the project involved an assassination strike. A few historians concede she may have known about the abduction plot.  On the surface of it, such knowledge seems likely.” In an article dealing with the authenticity of the Dahlgren Papers, historian Stephen Sears noted that: “…by the generally accepted rules of civilized warfare of the 1860s, the capture of an opposing head of state and his chief advisors  was a legitimate wartime objective, and no doubt was discussed as openly in Richmond as it was in Washington. Assassination of civilian leaders, on the other hand, was regarded as beyond the pale.” At least it was for Southern leaders, as for some of the Yankees, influenced by the socialists from Europe, well, for some of them, the ends justified the means.

One of the two people chiefly responsible for testimony that was damaging to Mary Surratt was Louis Wiechmann, a government clerk who knew her son, John, and who lived at the Surratt boarding house.  Lloyd Lewis, in The Assassination of Lincoln–History and Myth, wrote: “Except for two witnesses there was no case against Mrs. Surratt, but those two hanged her. One was John M. Lloyd…the other was a boarder in her own home, Louis J. Wiechmann.” There was a picture with one of the articles I read that spelled his name “Weichmann.” Note the two different spellings of the man’s last name. According to Roscoe: “Official records on Wiechmann are confusing. One might well believe them deliberately confused. In them his name is spelled at least five different ways. Dates are curiously juggled.  Wiechmann’s testimony is garbled, vaguely worded, often contradictory.”  And, on the other hand, Mrs. Surratt’s lawyers felt Wiechmann was way too glib and too ready to hang former associates.  You have to wonder which one was the real Wiechmann, just as, according to some sources, you might have to wonder if the man in John Wilkes Booth’s grave is the real Booth.

And yet, Wiechmann may have testified as he did out of a certain amount of fear. Benjamin P. Thomas and Harold M. Hyman wrote in the standard work Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln’s Secretary of War that: “Weichmann, too, might very well have been accused of complicity in the plot, and two years later, at the trial of John Surratt, Lloyd not only contradicted some of the statements he had made at the conspiracy trial but admitted that he had been subjected to both promises and threats. That Weichmann was subjected to the same sort of intimidation by Stanton, in the private cross-examination seems likely from the statement made by John T. Ford, owner of the celebrated theater. Ford, imprisoned with  Lloyd and Weichmann, became convinced from what they told him that Mrs. Surratt was innocent and that the two witnesses had been coerced.” Really? Would “our” government do such an underhanded thing? If they felt they had a good enough reason you better believe they would!

When Wiechmann testified at the trial of John Surratt in 1867 he said he had been “nervous” at the trial of the conspirators, and proceeded to contradict some of his former statements, “thereby putting Mrs. Surratt in a more favorable light.” It was, however, a tad bit late for that to do Mrs. Surratt any good. But Roscoe has noted that: “At the second trial, which in some respects amounted to a rehearing of Mrs. Surratt’s case, Louis Carland, a former customer at Ford’s Theater, testified that Weichmann had told him in 1865 that if he had  been let alone…it would have been quite a different affair with Mrs. Surratt than it was” that his statements had been written out for him and that he had been threatened with prosecution as an accessory if he refused to swear to them. Wiechmann, when examined again, denied he ever made this confession, although he did admit talking with Mr. Carland. If this tale were false, one must wonder what Mr. Carland would have had to gain by telling it.

Roscoe also observed that: “John W. Clampitt, one of Mrs. Surratt’s lawyers, a number of years after the trial wrote that Weichmann, after testifying, had been stung with remorse because he had committed perjury in implicating Mrs. Surratt in Lincoln’s murder. Certain ‘authorities’ in the War Department had threatened to prosecute him as an accomplice in the conspiracy against Lincoln if he refused to offer testimony.  Weichmann claimed, according to Clampitt, Holt had rejected the first statement Weichmann prepared with the remark that ‘it was not strong enough,’ whereupon, still under threat of prosecution, Weichmann had written a second and stronger statement, the substance of which he subsequently swore to on the witness stand. The man to whom Weichmann made this confession, wrote Clampitt, was refused permission to testify.” Almost sounds as if Wiechmann was indulged with a little “friendly persuasion”  to make sure he said what the Judge Advocate and Mr. Stanton wanted him to say.  And then, on his deathbed, Wiechmann signed a statement saying that all he had said at the original conspiracy trial was true after all.  Will the real Louis Wiechmann (Weichmann) please stand up?

Judge Advocate Joseph Holt summed up the preconceived sentiment of the Yankee/Marxist government when he said: “There have not been enough Southern women hanged in this war.” Thus, the great compassion of the Yankee/Marxist mindset was put on display for all the world to see–and it is this same “compassion” that we still live with today–thanks to the Lincoln administration. That this is the identical mindset  displayed by socialists and Communists, both in Mr. Lincoln’s government and in his rampaging armies, is one of the overriding factors that cause Donnie Kennedy and myself to write the book Lincoln’s Marxists. People need to become aware that this socialist, anti-Christ mindset is what the Lincoln administration gave us and that it has been passed down since then to us today. Now we have a Marxist in the White House that doesn’t even bother to deny his Marxism. Lincoln would be proud of him!