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Old 03-20-2017, 05:38 PM
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Default Book Review: "William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War"

Book Review: "William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War," by Walther
(Apollonian, 20 Mar 17)

Eric H. Walther's "William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War," UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 2006; xiv, 477 pp, 376 text, notes, bib., index, is outstanding scholarship, this work very well researched, well-written, even though author is the typical moralizing "liberal"-type college Prof. (U. of Houston, evidently) who doesn't entirely leave out his own prejudice, but still does good enough scholarly job. The only thing I would have wished was better coverage of that essential interplay btwn states of north and south, just after secession, in effort to avoid war, absolutely necessary for survival of Confederacy which had no navy, and didn't even have enough rifles to arm the infantry. Instead Walther follows Yancey's progress as first Confederate ambassador, appointed by Jeff. Davis, to Europe, esp. France and Britain, so that absolutely crucial political activity just before firing on Ft. Sumter, when Confederacy had to avoid war, isn't covered.

Yancey's significance is he was one of the very topmost leaders of secession movement in the south, fm late in the 1840s throughout the 1850s, and his heroic efforts are extremely instructive and informative. And one must note, even after the election of 1860 and great victory of Republicans, secessionists remained mostly in the minority--this, even though most southerners certainly were believers in states-rights and the right of secession. Actual secession itself was quite another matter, success for which Yancey and a few others were crucial.

For the fact, which so many forget so easily, is USA, the union, even back then, over a hundred and fifty yrs ago, was tremendous, rich, wealthy country, and moreover, known and understood to be so, millions of Europeans migrating (like today, still, the fools)--and many if not most, even in the south, didn't want to leave or break-up such a winning, lucrative arrangement, even despite serious sectional differences. Not only West Virginia seceded fm state of Virginia, but also the 27 eastern counties of Tennessee petitioned to secede fm their seceded state. Similarly, many in northern Alabama were very reluctant to leave the union. Note four of the fifteen slave states declined secession, staying in the union, and another four only did so after the union brought war against the original seven deep south states which did secede, starting the Confederacy.

Note further, the top capitalists of the north of the time understood these economic facts, and don't forget, even right after the war, USA CONTINUED to expand to the west, building the transcontinental railroads, expanding industry, taking-in yet more immigrants, etc. The "Civil" war, even for all its murderous horror, turned out to be a mere blip on the proverbial economic screen for the northern capitalists. The death of millions, fm north and south, including civilians and up to a million black slaves, during the war mattered little to the master-minds (or to the "liberals" of this day), a mere "detail" in the large scheme of things for them.

And the US military, though it was considerably drawn down after the war, continued w. basic "ethnic-cleansing"-type tactics learned and practiced during the "civil" war, exterminating the Plains Indians, the gov. retiring the infamous "greenbacks" by 1879, going back to gold standard and rip-roaring prosperity, and in 1898 became fully imperialist w. attack upon and conquest of Spanish holdings in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Phillippines, etc. After the deliberately engineered "Great" depression of the 1930s, the centralized US gov. and "New Deal" bureaucracy expanded yet further and was instrumental in establishing world gov. of present United Nations (UN), finishing the "League of Nations" business begun in 1914-18, USA having bank-rolled English and French conspirators and aggressors against Germany and the world.

So who exactly was William L. Yancey?--he was born to southern parents in 1814, his father having served as officer in US Navy. William's father died when he was three, and his mother then re-married (1821) w. Presbyterian Rev. Nathan Beman, of New York, who had moved to Georgia for his health, near where William's mother was living, Beman headmaster of a school where William had been sent, occasion of his new parents' first meeting. In 1822, Beman took his new family back to NY where he became pastor of a church in town of Troy, where William thereupon spent much of his youth.

Yancey's parents soon grew apart, however, and by age of 19, William moved back to the south, at first near his mother's family, in Greenville S. Carolina, and began in the law profession under tutelage of Ben Franklin Perry who, interestingly enough, was actually a unionist and opposed John C. Calhoun in the great S. Carolina Nullification Crisis of the time--such was the initial orientation of young William as he began his career. But as William stayed in the south, married and had his own career, mainly in law, he became evermore fierce southern partisan, moving evermore towards original nullification views of Calhoun. Though quite competent in the plain practice of law, Yancey was especially good for rhetorical expression and speech-making and soon enough became active in politics, serving in the Alabama state legislature (1841) and then, for a term, in the union Congress (1844-6).

Thus Yancey became a leader of southern secessionist movement fm the late 1840s which secession, as noted above, was not terribly popular in the south, most people favoring rather the compromises worked, as that of momentous 1850 regarding entry of California as a non-slave state, but without a compensating slave state to keep balance of votes btwn sections in the US Senate. Yancey worked to persuade southern states their slave-holding culture was doomed in face of northern subversion and conspiracy, and best option was outright secession. Events seemed to work in confirmation, especially w. the fighting which went on in territory of Kansas and then the John Brown raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, among other things.

Thus in the 1860 election, Yancey and his supporters worked, first, to sabotage the nomination of the northern (Illinois) Senator Stephen Douglas for Democrats, which Democratic party was thereupon split into two factions, northern and southern, southerners nominating Breckinridge, the then sitting Vice President (to Buchanan), and when Lincoln won w. sweep of the northern states, to Yancey's and others' efforts to securing secession of the deep south, esp. in Yancey's native Alabama which quickly followed S. Carolina and the other 5 Gulf coast states, including Georgia (as Georgia doesn't quite touch the Gulf coast, technically)

Yancey was thus seen as prominent leader of the southern cause and was immediately appointed by Jeff. Davis as chief diplomat to Europe, including England and France. While in Europe Yancey was confronted by the same basic "liberal" prejudice of the time against slavery, upon which he commented in letters back home the south could expect little sympathy. While still serving in Europe, Yancey was elected to the Confederate Senate (Alabama) in which Senate he served in three sessions fm 1862 after returning fm Europe. Yancey died in July of 1863 of what seems to have been kidney disease, not quite reaching the age of 49.

Significance of Yancey's career, heroic as it was, is in apprehension of diminishing southern fortunes regarding the union and general political events during his life when he began as staunch unionist, but steadily moved to secessionism, all in the face of statist consolidationism of the north. Even in Yancey's native south it was extremely difficult to get the people to support outright secession (the Alabama convention voting 61-39, but after the preliminary voting was closer, about 55-45), and the tragedy, of course, is once it was achieved it wasn't successfully managed, the south ruthlessly, horribly set-upon, smothered, strangulated, and steadily overwhelmed w. superior weight of force.

But never doubt the states-rights cause lives on for ideals of state sovereignty and Constitutional contract as understood by Jefferson, Madison, and Calhoun. It may have taken a century and a half, but now, finally, many more people, even in the north now, see the horrific consequences of big-brother centralism, the absolute state in contempt of the people's rights and liberties, the economy, finally, now stifled, far over-burdened, and snuffed, this dread monster of dictatorship evermore plainly engaged in literal extermination of the people by monopolistic corporations, even if by slow-kill methods of poison vaccines, poison prescription drugs, poison GMO foods and glyphosate chemical and pesticide treatment, etc. Nullification and secession still remain the only proper, rational, and fitting solutions, never doubt; Yancey and his heroic cohorts showed the way.
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