Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Slavery in Mexico: “nature’s God intended that it should be.”

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on March 14, 2011

The Civil War day-by-day blog Seven Score and Ten has another great catch today — they seem to do a lot of that — from the Oxford Mercury [Mississippi] on the significance of Texas’ secession to the prospects for the expansion of the “peculiar institution” into Mexico:

Standing immediately between us and Mexico, her refusal to join us would have retarded the ultimate and inevitable conquest of that country.  But now five years will not have elapsed before at least all the north-western States of Mexico will be States of the Confederacy.  And the conquest of the whole of that country is only a question of time.  The introduction of African slave labor into Mexico is the one thing necessary to make it what nature and nature’s God intended that it should be.

That’s Manifest Destiny, the Slaveholder’s Edition.

But secession was all about tariffs, right?

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  1. Robert Moore said, on March 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

    This mirrors that opinion piece that I posted in January, which was extracted from a Staunton newspaper from January 1861. I was betting there were more who felt the same way. Peaceful break-away (indeed), followed by Confederate imperialism in the name of expanding slavery.

  2. John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

    At the same time the Federal government is working to remove and destroy the Native American population in the name of mainfest destiny. Some great war to make all men created equal! Here is where it all falls apart. Sorry.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Where what “all falls apart?”

      I don’t believe I’ve ever espoused to sort of simplistic view of history your comment suggests I do. There’s plenty of condemnation to go around.

      • John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

        No need for you to take it personally, but there is no excuse for the treatment of the Indians. Hammering home the suggestion that there were no other reasons for the Civil War and harping on the simplistic “tarrifs” as a joke ad nauseum is getting really old. Everything done on the scale of the Civil War all comes down to what benefits the people who control the real money. Stand behind whatever crusade they want to pretend, but it is never that simple, and leaving the American Indian out of the picture, as is so routinely done, is the most revealing aspect of that era.

  3. BorderRuffian said, on March 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    AH:
    “But secession was all about tariffs, right?”

    *

    Far, far more than this proposed conquest of Mexico…from a newspaper.

  4. BorderRuffian said, on March 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    RM:
    “…Confederate imperialism…”

    *

    The only “Confederate imperialism” I have seen are some plots (so alledged) from maverick politicians and low-ranking military schemers.

    A certain historical crowd can always be counted on to blow these “plots” 100 times out of proportion.

    History crapola.

    • Robert Moore said, on March 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Wow, if I’ve blown this “plot” 100 times our of proportion in a mere three sentences, heck if I can see it.

      What I said was clear. I suspected there were others with a like mind, regarding the expansion of slavery into Mexico, and perhaps further. While it may appear insignificant in early war, those thoughts did, in fact, exist. At the beginning, the Confederacy’s plate was full enough. Once that plate was clear, expanding the profitability of slavery, especially through territorial expansion, would certainly remain a better than fair possibility.

      • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

        The enthusiasm to push the United States’ territory deeper into northern Mexico began at the end of the Mexican War and continued well after the end of the Civil War and slavery, part of the larger legacy mindset of Manifest Destiny. The Oxford Mercury piece just happens to be the slaveholding variant of it.

  5. pedrog said, on March 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    From Article IV
    (3) The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

    While much of the Confederate Constitution is copied directly from the US Constitution, this section is completely new.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Pedrog, thanks for taking time to comment. For those who believe (as I do) that a nation’s constitution is a critical document in understanding the way that nation defines itself — however imperfectly it may live up to those standards in practice — this passage from the C.S. constitution is important to keep in mind.

      If you’re replying to BorderRuffian, though, be aware that he’s as familiar with this as he is with the documents written at the time by the secessionists themselves to explain their actions. Even his own home state, in the act of seceding, acknowledged the central place of the institution in defining the Confederacy, pledging its support to “the slaveholding states of the South.” BR is not poorly read; he’s doing what he normally does here and on other blogs, arguing over a particular piece of bark while studiously avoiding acknowledging the rest of the forest around him. BR has shown in the past that he’s a smart guy, capable of contributing in substantive ways, but mostly he likes to argue for the sake of arguing. It’s just who he is. 😉

  6. John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Two points to ponder:
    What of the Corwin Amendment and Lincoln’s urging of its passage?
    And, what of the Confederate government’s offer of emancipation in exchange for European recognition of their autonomy?

    Both while the Federal government actively sought the eradication of this continent’s indigenous peoples.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      “What of the Corwin Amendment and Lincoln’s urging of its passage?”

      What about it? It was a last-minute attempt to hold the Union together by putting in constitutional safeguard protecting slavery. Lincoln personally opposed slavery, but politically was very pragmatic about it, and was willing to compromise for sake of what he saw as a larger goal of holding the Union together. This is not new or revelatory.

      “And, what of the Confederate government’s offer of emancipation in exchange for European recognition of their autonomy?”

      I’m not sure what this has to do with the motivations and goals of the secessionists in late 1860/early 1861. I don’t recall anyone in that particular time-frame formally offering such a concession. In fact, I’m not sure it was ever offered officially, only floated informally, late in the war, when “King Cotton” diplomacy had utterly failed to bring recognition from France and the UK. Given slaveholders’ opposition to impressment of their slaves — even on a temporary basis — to support the war effort, it’s hard to imagine emancipation in exchange for diplomatic recognition ever gaining widespread acceptance domestically.

      As before, I’m not sure what your point is, apart from pointing out that the U.S. government was pursuing (and continued to pursue) awful practices against Native Americans in the West. I agree. But I also wonder: do you suppose the Confederacy, once successfully establishing its independence from the United States and now looking to its own western frontier, and possibly to territories beyond that (i.e., Arizona), would have been any more respectful or magnanimous toward the indigenous peoples than the bluecoats proved to be? Do you suppose Forrest would have been a more benevolent frontier commander than Sheridan?

      • John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

        Andy, you are very correct that the Corwin Amendment is not new material, but it is revelatory when ignored in respect to the Union war objective. Political pragmatism is also nothing new. What then were the real objectives in keeping the south in the Union if you were not going to make all men equal as we know Lincoln was not intending when the war began? This is constantly danced around and massaged. Consistently the economics issues of disunion are portrayed as irrelevant. The entire nation, north and south was vastly racist, the real problem was how the fortunes of some would be affected across the board. Can you debate that?
        As for the second part I will suggest you do some reading, for you have missed a vital point in the final year of the war. I will give you a clue: Duncan Kenner.
        In both cases, dismissing either action as “last-minute” does not diminish the validity of the effort. This is a fact of every day life, it is done all the time, and sometimes resolves the issues at hand. It does not remove the sincerity of the move, does it?
        I am glad you so assertively agree (with bold text) regarding the Native American issue, but please don’t try to reduce it by asserting the Confederates would have done the same thing! That is just condescending. So you then condone what would clearly be a contradiction in moral philosophy within the actions of the Federal Government? Is there some excuse here that implies “All men are created equal except the Indians, because they aren’t men.”? That seems to be what was being practiced. Do you disagree?

        • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

          You do seem determined to shift the whole focus of this thread away from its original subject, which is how the secession of Texas was perceived as an opening for the takeover of parts of Mexico and the expansion of slavery into those areas.

          “I will give you a clue: Duncan Kenner.”

          But I’m the one being condescending, right?

          “So you then condone what would clearly be a contradiction in moral philosophy within the actions of the Federal Government?”

          That’s a pretty offensive insinuation on your part. As I said in my first response to you, “there’s plenty of condemnation to go around.” I really don’t know what else you want me to say, or what I wrote in the first place that set you off.

  7. Dennis said, on March 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Last I checked this blog was about the American Civil War and most people here are fully aware of what happened to Navtive Americans. Of course, when you discover that your “side” is guilty of terrible crimes against humanity (slavery, rape, murder of children and mass murder of your fellow Americans to keep doing these crimes), pointing that other crimes/people is a great method to change the sugject – next he will need point out IBM heiped the NAZI’s relative to the final solution… please.

    • John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      I don’t think we can talk about the “Civil War” without all its social. political and cultural aspects. Isn’t that the point behind the recent changes to NPS interpretation at battlefields? To be all inclusive in the story? Interesting how one can assume I am representing a “side” other than that of truth and honesty. That is a broad leap of an assumption. No one told me at the door I had to actually take sides in this discussion.

      • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

        I don’t think we can talk about the “Civil War” without all its social. political and cultural aspects. Isn’t that the point behind the recent changes to NPS interpretation at battlefields? To be all inclusive in the story?

        Sorry to be blunt, but a blog post is not the National Park Service. I don’t think think that any blog post (or blog) can talk intelligently, in a meaningful way, about the Civil War in all its aspects and complexities. In fact, I think it would be foolish to try. (Much better to take a narrower topic, and try to do it well.) But at the same time, it’s wrong to assume that, because someone writes critically of one party to a conflict, they must necessarily think the other party is just fine and dandy. Just because I criticize Davis, doesn’t mean I believe Lincoln was a saint — or vice-versa.

        Certainly NPS has an obligation to be as inclusive as possible in its history programs and interpretation. That’s as it should be, since NPS is the steward for hundreds of this nation’s most important historic sites. But that’s very different from a blog.

        As for “sides,” I don’t see that in your own blog, but your comments in this thread do come across as being of the same sort as the Lost Causers who reflexively respond to any criticism of the South with “Lincoln was a racist!” or “Grant owned slaves!” or similar deflections. I don’t really think that reflects your position, but they do kinda read that way.

        • John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

          Well, that is perhaps due to knee-jerk reaction.
          A neutral stance can look at both sides with an untainted lens.
          Andy, I appreciate that you have found my blog to be free of ‘southern slant”.

          • Dennis said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

            Adding side information can be useful – I know all too well what Lincoln did here in Maryland and how he took dictatorial powers and illegally jailed American (Maryland) citizens and most history books I read say this – maybe some don”t know this; yet that is relevant and ok to throw in; however, what does killing native Americans have to do with the civil war? Zero -both relative to understanding the conflict and the people in it. We all know all Americans (North AND south) murdered many thousands of Native Americans before the civil war, and to throw that into a discussion of the crimes of the south is a underhanded attemp to just throw mud to cover the failings of the side you support – the fact that a major paper went to the trouble to write on extending slavery into Mexico after they conquer it, is a fresh (for me) perspective that was valuable data relative to the thinking of people in the conflict – especially the south; a people who left the Union for only one real reason – to keep and extend slavery.

  8. John Cummings said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Oh, and Andy, I was staying on subject as you were rounding off your post with: “That’s Manifest Destiny, the Slaveholder’s Edition.”

  9. Dennis said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I am glade Mr. Cummings has failed to address my points since this proves he both knows that my points are valid and he is wrong for trying to add such a silly side post to an insightful blog entry (I learned a good bit.) That is nice for him to aknowledge.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

      I got a little torqued myself yesterday, and was intemperate in some of my comments. I’m hoping we can all “dial it back” a couple of notches today.

    • John Cummings said, on March 15, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Dennis, I addresed your points yesterday and they are posted at 5:45 PM. If you have added to the discussion here today, I will take a look and see what you have said. I really don’t plan on making a great deal more out of this. I stated what I wanted to be put forth.

  10. Dick Stanley said, on March 15, 2011 at 1:31 am

    The war was all about tariffs if you went to public school in Texas in the 1960s.

    I’m not sure how (or whether) it’s changed much. My fifth grader is still on the American Revolution. His school district obviously plans to avoid the controversy of the civil war until at least middle school.

  11. Sherree said, on March 15, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Andy,

    Not the post itself, but the conversation that ensued illustrates a point that I have been attempting to make for a while now–too often the narratives of other races are used to privilege one white narrative over another white narrative, instead of respecting the narrative and learning from it.

    The fate and plight of men and women of the Plains nations is absolutely a topic not only relevant, but germane to the study of the Civil War. To use this history and narrative to bolster either pro Confederate or an idealized view of the Union is dead wrong and has consequences not far removed from the same type of consequences suffered by African American men and women through the years because of false narratives that sanitized the history of slavery. As I said on Crossroads yesterday, no matter who won the Civil War, the outcome was dire for Indigenous men and women. Your point is well taken about the Confederacy’s version of Manifest Destiny, and also about Forrest. That does not change what actually did take place, however, and Sheridan proved to be every bit as brutal as Forrest when it came to Sheridan’s treatment of Indigenous men and women. There are reasons why a scholar such as Waziyatawin calls Lincoln the Great Executioner, rather than the Great Emancipator, and it is time to address this history and not let it devolve into yet another battering ram for a white narrative.

    John,

    You did not answer Andy’s question. Had the South won, would Forrest have been a better and more humane general than Sheridan was in fighting the Plains nations?

    • John Cummings said, on March 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Sherree, I have no interest in speculating what Forrest would have done over Sheridan. That has nothing to do with my point in the least bit. I am not defending the Confederacy here. I am pointing out the hypocrisy of the Federal government’s actions being taken against the Indigenous peoples DURING and after the war to end slavery. You have done the same in your statement, noting partisan.

      • Sherree said, on March 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        Don’t put words in my mouth, John. And don’t use my thoughts for your purposes. There are real people hurt by false history, which is my reason for entering this discussion. Hypocrisy is not something about which I am overly concerned. There are a lot of hypocrites in the world.

        If you want to know about the Corwin amendment, I would suggest that you read the posts on Crossroads concerning it. There is an in depth discussion on that blog and Professor Simpson will engage you in dialogue if you are civil, which you are. Sherree

        • John Cummings said, on March 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

          Sherree, I am perplexed. What exactly do you think I am saying here? What false history? I am talking about the history of the federal government’s treatment of the natives while setting the slaves free. I am doing nothing to use this as pro Confederate. And my bringing up Corwin is to further point out that ending slavery was not the foremost concern in 1861 going by its existence. It seems to me they just wanted the states back in the Union. I had already read all the material on Crossroads. That does not change the fact that there was an effort to maintain slavery where it existed. That is not an effort to be pro slavery on my part or pro Confederate. Can’t I be neutral and not take a side? I am standing here and looking at what was going on without a partisan stance. My entire point regarding the treatment of the Indians was that it smacks in the face of making “all men created equal”. I look at the story of the Santee Sioux Indian men, hung at Mankato, Minnesota, Dec. 16, 1862 and the policy toward Indians from that point forward. Everything you explained in your post from 7:26 AM on the 15th, as far as I can read, I support. Where am I bolstering anything contrary? I suspect the Confederates (Forrest, as you asked specifically) could have been just as unjust to the native population, but I was never trying to suggest otherwise. I was not contrasting a “better of two evils” scenario at all here.
          What purposes am I using your words for? It sounded like you initially came to my defence regarding the “not only relevant, but germane to the study of the Civil War” subject of the native peoples.
          What am I saying wrong?
          Slavery was wrong, the treatment of the Indians was and still is wrong.

          • Sherree said, on March 16, 2011 at 9:13 am

            “Slavery was wrong, the treatment of the Indians was and still is wrong.”

            John,

            On this point we agree. The way you presented your argument, however, it seemed to me that you were attempting to ignore the information that Andy provided–that is, that the Confederacy was prepared to not only take more territory, but to expand the institution of slavery into that territory. Had this been your intent, then your argument would have deflected attention away from the powerful piece of evidence that Andy linked to, and you would have done a disservice to both African American and Indigenous men and women by using their narratives to bolster your position. Now that you have clarified your position, we are closer to agreeing. However, I am firmly convinced of the cause of the Civil War–slavery. I know all of the arguments. Still, slavery was the cause, even when it wasn’t the cause early on, so the Corwin amendment argument is not an argument in which I am interested. Perhaps we should all choose our words more carefully. My primary concern is not in “winning” this debate, or about the hypocrisy of the debate at times (which exists on both sides) but in raising awareness about Indigenous history as it unfolded within the “war within a war”, as phrased in a brief post at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History–a war within a war, the legacy of which left some men and women about whom I care very deeply in poverty and with scars so deep that the healing may never be complete in their lifetimes, but perhaps will be for their children.

  12. Andy Hall said, on March 15, 2011 at 8:58 am

    The comments yesterday were spirited, and occasionally ill-spirited. I particularly am guilty of that last part, and will try to be better about that today.

  13. Sherree said, on March 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for your response, Andy. Also, no apologies necessary. I think the post is insightful and will help to focus attention on this important part of our history.

    I will provide some links for further information tomorrow, with your permission. Also, Jublio! The Emancipation Century posted a very informative piece about residential schools and the legacy of reservation life. The title of the post is as follows: “The American Indian at Hampton Institute Virginia”. (A reader interested in the history of slavery will find a wealth of information at Jublio!, as you know. Of particular interest to me is the section on slave women, which is a sobering indictment of slave society and should be required reading, in my opinion.)

    As far as the Plains nations go, white men and women from the North, the South, the East and the West all wanted more land and they were determined to get it. In the way of getting that land were the men, women and children of the Plains Nations. It can be argued that the Union offered a more humane solution to the “Indian problem” than the Confederacy may have offered had it won the war, but it cannot be argued that westward expansion was for the benefit of the “American Indian”, because it simply was not, as history has indeed conclusively proven. On the contrary, it was catastrophic.

  14. Dick Stanley said, on March 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    And the guerrilla-warfare culture of Plains indians such as the Comanches helped convince the American public that the vision of the westward expansionists was the correct one.

    • Sherree said, on March 16, 2011 at 6:14 am

      If this reply is in response to my comment, Dick, you’ll have to explain. I don’t understand your point. Thanks.

  15. Mark said, on March 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Very interesting.

    Southern newspapers are fantastic places to find out what antebellum life was like — most of the stuff I read in those old papers, now digitized, seems QUITE unlike what I was taught in school.

    It’s almost as if every teacher I had either didn’t know, or didn’t dare tell us that the spread of slavery was the oxygen in the air. Nor did they tell us the South state governments had a violent suppression of free speech — even by preachers.

    How on EARTH did they leave all this out?

    For example, I was stunned to learn of the cottage industry of raising and selling slave dogs — and how essential terrorism via trained dogs was to slave owners, to keep their slaves in line. You only get the nitty gritty from the Mother Lode itself — Southern newspapers.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      This is why the first three rules of historical research are (1) primary sources, (2) primary sources, and (3) primary sources. In that order.

      What’s especially exciting now is how much of this material is available online. I don’t see the Internet replacing the shoe leather work of tracking down sources in the archives, but it’s quite astonishing what can be done from home or the office right now.

  16. Sherree said, on March 16, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Dennis,

    In one comment you said the following:

    “Adding side information can be useful – I know all too well what Lincoln did here in Maryland and how he took dictatorial powers and illegally jailed American (Maryland) citizens and most history books I read say this – maybe some don’t know this; yet that is relevant and ok to throw in; however, what does killing native Americans have to do with the civil war? Zero -both relative to understanding the conflict and the people in it.”

    I agree with you completely that an introduction of Indigenous history into a discussion about the Civil War in order to avoid talking about the history of slavery, for instance, is not a legitimate argument. However, Native nations were indeed involved in the Civil War. In fact, they were involved in every aspect of it. First of all, Native nations fought in the armies of and against the armies of both the Confederacy and the Union. Second, there were inner civil wars over which side to join. Third, the fundamental cause of the Civil War–whether or not slavery would expand into the western territories–put the Dakota, the Lakota, the Apache, the Navajo, the Nez Perces, and many more Indigenous nations right in the path of war. Fourth, many massacres of Native peoples occurred during the war years–i.e., the Bear River massacre, 1863; the Sioux uprising that ended in mass executions of Dakota warriors and a forced march of women and children, 1862; the Sand Creek massacre, 1864, to name a few. And finally, the aftermath of the Civil War ended in disaster for the Plains Nations, so yes, it is quite appropriate to speak of “Native Americans” when speaking of the Civil War.


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