Radical Sectionalism and Coveting Southern Land

From: Bernhard1848@att.net

Though never short on hostility toward what they termed "a South barbarized by slavery", the fanatical abolitionist preachers who fanned the flames of hatred seemed to forget who brought the unfortunate African slaves to North America. Rather than flail at the inheritors of a colonial labor system originating with England and nurtured by the New England slave trade, they should have denounced their own forefathers who profited from the nefarious slave trade. Once hoarse from the severe sermons chastising their ancestors, those abolitionists could have purchased the freedom of the slaves they brought here and repatriated them to their homeland. But as Rev. Beecher reveals below, freeing the African slave was merely a smokescreen for what they really wanted.

Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director Cape Fear Historical Institute Post Office Box 328 Wilmington, NC 28402 www.CFHI.net

Radical Sectionalism and Coveting Southern Land:

Henry Clay recognized the serious implications of the (prewar) splintered denominations when, in 1852, he commented:

"I can tell you this sundering of religious ties which have hitherto bound our people together, I consider the greatest source of danger to our country. If our religious men cannot live together in peace, what can be expected of us politicians, very few of whom profess to be governed by the principles of love?"

(Methodist Reverend Granville Moody stated that:) "We (the Northern preachers) are charged with having brought about the present (secession) crisis. I believe it is true that we did bring it about, and I glory in it for it is a wreath of glory around our brow" As the Northern preachers stirred an antislavery sentiment in the North, they became a vital factor in promoting the sectionalism whereby the North saw itself as superior to the South; superior morally, intellectually and culturally. Theodore Parker drew the distinction as sharply as any preacher in the North. In an 1848 sermon which smacked of strong provincialism, he proclaimed:

"Who fought the Revolution? Why the North, furnishing the money and the men, Massachusetts alone sending fourteen thousand soldiers more than all the present slave States. Who pays the national taxes? The North, for the slaves pay but a trifle. Who owns the greater part of the property, the mills, the shops, the ships? The North. Who writes the books—the histories, poems, philosophies, works of science, even the sermons and commentaries on the Bible? Still the North. Who sends their children to school and colleges? The North. Who builds the churches, who founds the Bible societies, missionary societies, the thousand-and-one institutions for making men better and better off? Why the North. In a word, who is it in seventy years has made the nation great, rich and famous for her ideas and their success all over the world? The answer is still the North, the North.

Who is most blustering and disposed to quarrel? The South. Who made the Mexican War? The South. Who sets at naught the Constitution? The South. Who would bring the greatest peril in the case of war with a strong enemy? Why the South. But what is the South most noted for abroad? For her three million slaves; and the North for her wealth, freedom, education, religion."

On April 14, 1861, one day after Fort Sumter had surrendered to Confederate forces, (Henry Ward) Beecher (said) "There has been a spirit of patriotism in the North, but never, within my memory, in the South. I never heard a man from the South speak of himself as an American. Men from the South speak of themselves as Southerners…they have been devoid of that large spirit which takes in the race, and the nation, and its institutions, and its history." Later in the same year Beecher complained that "the South had been overrun with pestilent heresies of States rights."

When it was asked in England why the North did not allow the South to secede, Beecher, in a speech at Exeter Hall in London on October 30, 1863 had a reply. "It is said, "Why not let the South go? Since they wont be at peace with you, why do you not let them separate from you?" Because they would be still less peaceable when separated. Oh, if the Southerners only would go! They are determined to stay—that is the trouble. We would furnish free passage to all of them if they would go. But we say, the land is ours. Let them (leave), and leave the nation its land, and they will have our unanimous consent."

(God Ordained This War, Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865, David Cheesebrough, University of South Carolina Press, 1991)