Letters to the Editor
Dear Mr. MacDonald,
I am a recent subscriber to The St. Croix Review. It is an impressive publication and you are to be congratulated.
That said, your recent article, “Ominous Events Leading to the Civil War,” could have benefited from further research. A fawning biography of Charles Sumner is hardly the place to find an impartial history of the events leading up to the Civil War.
Senator Sumner was surely an important figure in bringing on the war, and after it he played an important role in trying to keep the hatred between the sections alive.
Your defense of the anti-slavery forces in Kansas is highly inaccurate, as is your general depiction of the extreme Abolitionists. The truth is that both (they are generally the same people in any case) were violent fanatics who made any peaceful resolution of the issue of slavery impossible. They were rejected not just by Southerners but also by almost all sane people in the North. Normal Americans understood that their constant acts of illegality and violence would lead to open conflict, something nobody wanted. They were, in fact, the Antifa of the 1850s and 1860s.
The Kansas “Free Staters” were hardly the Bible-toting, peaceful citizens you describe. They were heavily armed by wealthy Northern Abolitionists and constantly raided into the neighboring state of Missouri. I find it interesting that you left John Brown out of your narrative. This murdering lunatic butchered several men in Kansas simply because they were Southerners, and then went on to bigger and better things at Harper’s Ferry, all the time financed by rich Northern Abolitionists.
The idea that any crime was justified in order to end slavery is a matter of personal opinion, but having spent my career in Latin America and the Caribbean I have a different view. With the sole exception of Haiti (hardly an example anybody would want to follow) slavery was abolished in a civilized, peaceful fashion. The European powers and Latin American republics understood — as Northern Abolitionists refused to accept — that the slavery system was an integral part of the settlement of the Western Hemisphere and all — repeat, all — of the European powers had embraced it as the only way to obtain the labor needed for the development of the continents. Evil? Surely, but hardly unique in the history of the human race. By making the slavery issue one between a good, virtuous North and an unspeakably evil and aggressive South, they made the war inevitable.
It is interesting to note the total lack of self-awareness of so many Northern Abolitionists. During the colonial era and after New Englanders were major participants in the slave trade, and the entire North benefited from the crops grown in the South. Textile factories in the North spun the cotton into cloth, and Northern farmers help feed the slave states. The gold that financed the U.S. government in the pre-war period was earned largely from the export of cotton to England. One can only smile when reading of the indignant refusal of these saintly Abolitionists to consider plans to compensate slave owners for what was their legally held property, or to allow any significant number of the former slaves to move to the North. On no! That shoe would pinch too much!
As for Senator Sumner, while it is unfortunate that he had to take a beating at the hands of Brooks, he should have considered himself lucky to be alive. At that time in the South the obscene words of Sumner against a respected, elderly public figure would have resulted in his death. Only his status as a Northerner saved him from that. The honor of the senator was at stake and his young relative took it upon himself to chastise a man who had gone far beyond any limits of decency. A few members of our current Congress would benefit from a good flogging, in my opinion. In the modern world public figures assume they are immune from any real retribution no matter how blatant their lies or vicious their comments. An improvement? Perhaps, but I am not convinced.
I might add that there are differing views on the injuries suffered by Sumner. That he was whacked on the head is beyond dispute. The cane used was gutta percha, an early form of hard rubber or plastic. No doubt he had a headache but Sumner made the most of it in dramatic 19th century fashion. He was not “disabled” as he claimed, and lived to die in bed at the age of 63 of a heart attack, apparently none the worse for wear as a result of the thrashing by Brooks.
You might want to read Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War by David Donald. It gives the other side of the Sumner Story.
Again, keep up the good work on The St. Croix Review.
Charles C. Burgess
Donald Trump Jr.’s mother was originally from Communist Czechoslovakia. While growing-up Trump Jr. spent about a month each summer visiting his Czech grandmother. He became fluent in Czech and experienced difficult living in a Communist country.
After the collapse of the Soviet empire, his Czech grandmother was able to watch CNN, and was appalled by the pro-socialism she observed from America. Trump Jr. revealed these events recently during a speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, televised by C-SPAN.
Economics professor, columnist, and libertarian Dr. Walter Williams recently revealed in a column that 33 percent of millennials viewed Communism favorably. And in recent opinion polls over 50 percent of the Democrats favored socialism. Seventy percent of the millennials could vote for socialists according to a recent poll.
My wife, whom I met in North America, was a refugee from East Germany. Her family escaped before the Wall went up in West Germany. They lived under the tyranny of Hitler’s “National Socialism,” as well as Stalin’s “international socialism.” Her family believed the Communists were the worst, based on the body count. And like Trump Jr.’s grandmother, she is appalled that so many Americans (especially Democrats) favor socialism. She would like to pack them all off to Cuba or Venezuela, so that they can experience the misery of living in a socialist country.
I am not so optimistic that left wing Democrats are capable of learning from such an experience. Consider Sen. Bernie Sanders who “honeymooned” in the Soviet Union and was “impressed” by what he saw.
Back in the ’90s, shortly after the Soviet collapse, I attended a left wing conference in Chicago. I approached a booth for the American Communist Party. I identified myself as a conservative and asked them if they weren’t chastened in their views by the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe? They insisted the Soviet block countries “weren’t Communist.” They were “state capitalists.” Further, the people of Central and Eastern Europe were essentially “too dumb” to get Communism right. But Americans knew how to get it right!