Soft-peddling Socialsm During the War of Northern Aggression

By Al Benson Jr.

Over the years I have picked up some historical fiction books about the War of Northern Aggression. Though not completely accurate historically they often do contain a large measure of truth if you know what to look for. Some do briefly hint at certain truths, but usually not enough to catch the attention of the average reader.

I am reading one now, which I have read previously, called The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara. It was a New York Times bestseller, which may explain why some of the history has been soft-peddled. If Mr. Shaara had told his readers more about some of what he hinted at it probably would not have gotten published by his publisher, Ballantine Books and it might have interfered with the New York Times picking it as a best seller.

I’ve read several of Mr. Shaara’s books and they are entertaining and readable and he does give you some accurate history, but he also leaves out some things that the regular history books leave out, and if he did research for the books he has written on the War of Northern Aggression I can’t believe he didn’t run across some of this.

On page 2, in his introduction, he talks about some of the people that fought the war on both sides. He says: “From the North came farmers and fishermen, lumberjacks and shopkeepers, old veterans and young idealists. Some are barely Americans at all, expatriates and immigrants from Europe, led by officers who do not speak English.” You would have thought his finding of this kind of information would have piqued his interest enough to give at least brief commentary on who these officers in the Union army were that could not speak English—but no, he says not a word more. If you know the accurate history you have to realize that “those people” he refers to are, in the main, the Forty-Eighter socialists that Donnie Kennedy and I wrote about in Lincoln’s Marxists.

On page 88 he makes another rather trite comment about Franz Sigel, one of the more notable of the Forty Eighters.  He comments on Sigel’s defeat in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 (Sigel was far from the greatest general in the world) and he says of Sigel that: “He was a graduate of the German Military Academy, an experienced fighter who had emigrated himself because he happened to pick the wrong side in a brief revolution.” Oh come on, Mr. Shaara—there’s a lot more to Franz Sigel than that and I’m sure you realize it. The 1848 socialist revolts in Europe may have been brief, in that they only lasted  a bit more than a year, but they were hardly insignificant. Revolts during that time went on in something like fifteen different countries and they shook all of Europe, plus they had lasting ramifications that went beyond that time, not only in Europe but also here. Many of the leaders and regular participants in those revolts ended up in this country, in the Republican Party and in the Union armies because they recognized that they could readily identify with what Lincoln was promoting—centralism and collectivism. I would have thought Mr. Shaara could have devoted at least a brief paragraph to those people, but no, nothing more than what I have quoted. Again, this is history the general public is not supposed to be aware of.

He did make an interesting comment about the Yankee general Joshua Chamberlain which is generally not mentioned, so I wonder if he let something slip here unawares. He said on page 7 that: “…Chamberlain accepts a prestigious Chair at Bowdoin, formerly held by the renowned Calvin Stowe, husband of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her controversial book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, inspires Chamberlain.” I’ve heard over the years that Chamberlain wasn’t a abolitionist. He may not have been, but he was inspired by one of the movers and shakers of the Abolitionist Movement. Interestingly enough, when Ms. Stowe wrote her book she had no firsthand personal knowledge of the South or of conditions in the South. She was a Unitarian who had been dabbling in spiritualism. Of course Shaara didn’t mention that—another no-no!

I wouldn’t discourage folks from reading Shaara’s books. They are entertaining and, as I said, very readable and you will get some history from them. You just won’t get everything you need to give you an accurate picture of what the War was really all about. Admittedly they are fiction, though I’ve seen some “history” books that have about the same amount of truth in them. I would, however, encourage people reading them to do some homework yourselves to find out just what has been emphasized and what has been mostly left out. That might be an interesting exercise.

Agitation Propaganda Then and Now

by Al Benson Jr.

This is a subject I have written about in the past but it is still relevant today and so I don’t think it hurts to remind folks. All radical and anti-Christian revolutionary movements opposed to God and His lawful authority have used agitation propaganda, or what has been called “agit-prop” and they still use it today. Such material has been used to inflame the passions and emotions of ordinary people so they will, without benefit of serious thought or reflection, become cannon fodder for the revolutionaries in their quest to overthrow legitimate God-given authority. This fits right in with the “critical theory” technique employed by the Marxists and their handlers today, though it is hardly something new.

It went on before the French Revolution got into full swing and was, no doubt, responsible for much of what followed in that horrid debacle. The late historian, Otto Scott, in his book Robespierre–the Voice of Virtue (Mason & Lipscomb, New York), noted that the French revolutionaries of that day made more than adequate use of the printed word. On page 47 of his book he commented on the use of pamphlet shops in Paris and how much material they turned out.  He quoted an English observer of all this who said, of the printed pamphlets: “Thirteen came out today, sixteen yesterday, ninety-two last week…nineteen twentieths are in favor of liberty…violent against clergy and nobility…Nothing in reply appears…”  Note his last comment–“Nothing in reply appears.” In regard to reaching the general public, or at least those who could read, the Leftist revolutionaries (for that’s really what they were) had the entire field to themselves. There was no rebuttal to their vitriol whatever.

In this country, in the decades of abolitionist ascendancy before the War of Northern Aggression, the media was used in the exact same way, to promote the careers of such men as abolitionist/terrorist John Brown. Although Brown, a failure in every business he was ever involved in, was nothing more than an impoverished-most-of-the-time murderer, he was, via the Northern “news” media, given the appearance of a saint, of at least the stature of Oliver Cromwell. It was a glowing tribute to the prowess of the Northern “news” media that a man like John Brown was able to be passed off as anything other than the murderer he really was. Yet it happened.  It was one of the higher points of what passed for abolitionist “journalism.”

Otto Scott, in his excellent and informative book The Secret Six–The Fool As Martyr noted that: “John Brown appeared…with a reputation created by James Redpath of the N.Y. Tribune, attested by Richard Hinton of the Boston Traveler and the Chicago Tribune, enameled by Phillips of the New York Times in his recent book on Kansas, by the Times’ Sam Tappen, and by Richard Henry Kagi of the New York Post.”  So the Northern media conducted what was plainly a campaign of agitation propaganda against the South, and history shows that, at the time, the Southern states had nothing with which to counter such a Northern propaganda blitz. Furthermore, many Southerners did not even think this specious propaganda was worth replying to, so they just ignored it. They shouldn’t have. Again, this attitude gave the Leftists the complete playing field, with almost no opposition whatever.

In passing, I will remind folks that the New York Tribune was owned by utopian socialist Horace Greeley, the same Horace Greeley that employed Charles Dana and Karl Marx. Does that tell you anything? You can read about some of this in Lincoln’s Marxists the book co-authored by Donnie Kennedy and myself. Don’t look for too many of the professional “historians” to tell you all that much about it.

Not only that, there were many more newspapers in the North than in the South. In a book entitled The North and the South–Being a Statistical View of the Condition of the Free and Slave States (originally published in 1857 by John P. Jewett and Company, Boston, and Henry P. B. Jewett, Cleveland) many observations were made as to the power of the press in both Northern and Southern states. It is stated on page 112 of the book that: “In 1828 the number of papers at the North was to that at the South as 3 to 1; and in 1840 as 2 1/2 to one…in 1850 the number of papers at the South was 704; at the North 1799; while the circulation at the South was 782,453, and at the North 4,296,768; or over five at the North to one at the South…” So the abolitionists and their radical socialist comrades had a whopping numerical advantage. For some reason, as stated previously, those that took a constitutional, states’ rights position seemed almost reluctant to reply to the Yankee/Marxists. Their position deserved a fair hearing, which it never got outside of the South.

In our day, Herbert Philbrick, in his book I Let Three Lives traced the use of agitation propaganda by the Communists in this country when he infiltrated the Communist Party USA for the FBI. That would never happen nowadays! Philbrick wrote: “Secret underground presses are a vital adjunct to the Communist Party in every non-Communist nation, including the United States. Propaganda and deception are the keystones on which the movement to subvert a people and their government must be built. Communications and agitation by means of the printed word, through pamphlets, magazines, leaflets, and newspapers are essential to the structure.” 

Philbrick pointed out a situation that has not changed since before the French Revolution, and one that continues right up to our day–and now you can add the Internet into the mix. Radical left-wingers, whether in the streets, on Wall Street, in our public education system, or in the halls of Congress,make much use of the media for their own purposes, and haplessly, the media seem all too willing to go along with it, as it works toward the One World goal of tearing down this country and its culture, which is a main part of their agenda along with the destruction of Christianity.

Lots of uninformed folks will say “This is America, that can’t happen here.” To which I would reply–what are you willing to do to make sure it doesn’t happen here?