Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.
Friends of Our Friends Campaign
Our vision is to reawaken the genuine American spirit of living in a good, great, and growing nation of free-born individuals.
Our mission is to uphold American liberty, prosperity, constitutional law, and humble government.
Lessons from the Life of John Quincy Adams
Editorial — Barry MacDonald
Please read our “vision” and “mission” statements printed above the title. The vision statement is a shared ideal, I believe, between the writers and readers of The St. Croix Review — about building anew the sort of nation we want America to be. The mission statement presents the pillars that we believe must be perpetuated in order to bring about our vision for America.
The vision and mission statements are meant to be provocative. For example, we prompt the question: what is “the genuine American spirit”? We invite Americans who love America to express their opinions on what the genuine American character is or should be. We would like to invite the readers of The St. Croix Review to venture an essay exploring the topic. We have published essays written by our readers, and are eager to do so again.
Historically we are not, and have never been, a nation characterized by an attitude of quietude and submission before governmental authority. We disagree and argue fiercely among ourselves for the advancement of cherished beliefs. Americans are free people. We have an innate desire to see justice done. We want to live with an impersonal and impartial system of laws.
Unfortunately the Left in America is denigrating American history with the intention of undermining the worthiness of our Founding principles and our Constitution. This essay presents an inspiring look at American history, and at an under-appreciated American hero.
Washington, D.C. has become a vortex drawing to itself the nation’s wealth. Its politicians assume God-like authority to regulate and direct every aspect of our complex society. Our freedom of speech and our free exercise of religion are threatened. Not only the politicians but also the media “watch dogs,” educators, artists, and entertainers are all blind to how far from modesty and humility our government is. And too many voters are blind to the house-of-cards our nation has become. What is to be done?
We must hold on to our principles with courage and perseverance. There is no telling how long the battle for dominance will be, or of what events will intervene to change our course. We cannot avoid hard times. Not everyone can take direct action, but we must support those who do effect change. In American history there is no better example of courage and perseverance than John Quincy Adams.
John Quincy Adams was the son of our second President, John Adams. Like his father he had a wealth of experience. When he was ten years old he went with his father on his father’s diplomatic mission to France. For the next eight years he lived in Paris, the Netherlands, Russia, and England. John Quincy Adams became fluent in French and Dutch, and he was familiar with German and other European languages.
He in his turn was appointed minister to the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia. He persuaded Czar Alexander to let American ships trade in Russian ports. He led the U.S. peace commissioners in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
As President James Monroe’s Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams wrote the Monroe Doctrine, warning European nations not to interfere in the affairs of the Americas. He negotiated fishing rights off the Canadian coast with England; established a part of the U.S. Canadian border; and negotiated the transfer of Florida from Spanish to U.S. sovereignty.
As our sixth president he promoted education and modernized the American economy. He paid off much of the national debt. But he neglected to build networks of support within Congress, so he was stymied by a Congress controlled by his opponents, and by members who were indifferent to him. He lost his re-election bid to Andrew Jackson in 1828.
Then he did something singular and extraordinary: He got elected to the House as a Representative from Massachusetts; and he served for seventeen years — nine consecutive terms, until his death in 1848.
He felt revulsion for slavery at a time when such sentiment was not ascendant among the powerful in Congress. He wrote:
“Slavery is a great and foul stain upon the North American Union, and it is a contemplation worthy of the most exalted soul whether its total abolition is or is not practicable.”
He spoke of “slave-drivers” and the “flagrant image of human inconsistency” of men who had “the Declaration of Independence on their lips and the merciless scourge of slavery in their hands.”
The following quote appears in John T. Morse’s biography, John Quincy Adams, published in 1882. It reflects a time unshackled by the conformity enforced by today’s political correctness:
“He was by nature a hard fighter, and by the circumstances of his course in Congress this quality was stimulated to such a degree that parliamentary history does not show his equal as a gladiator. His power of invective was extraordinary, and he was untiring and merciless in his use of it. . . . Men winced and cowered before his milder attacks, became sometimes dumb, sometimes furious with mad rage before his fiercer assaults. Such struggles evidently gave him pleasure, and there was scarce a back in Congress that did not at one time or another feel the score of his cutting lash; though it was the Southerners and the Northern allies of Southerners whom chiefly he singled out for torture. He was irritable and quick to wrath. . . . Of alliances he was careless, and friendships he had almost none. But in the creation of enmities he was terribly successful. . . . From the time when he fairly entered upon the long struggle against slavery, he enjoyed few peaceful days in the House. . . . When the air of the House was thick with crimination and abuse he seemed to suck in fresh vigor and spirit from the hate-laden atmosphere. When invective fell around him in showers, he screamed back his retaliation with untiring rapidity and marvelous dexterity of aim. No odds could appall him. With his back set firm against a solid moral principle, it was his joy to strike out at a multitude of foes. They lost their heads as well as their tempers, but in the extremest moments of excitement and anger Mr. Adams’s brain seemed to work with machine-like coolness and accuracy. With flushed face, streaming eyes, animated gesticulation, and cracking voice, he always retained perfect mastery of all his intellectual faculties. He thus became a terrible antagonist, whom all feared, yet fearing could not refrain from attacking, so bitterly and incessantly did he choose to exert his wonderful power of exasperation. Few men could throw an opponent into wild blind fury with such speed and certainty as he could; and he does not conceal the malicious gratification which such feats brought to him. A leader of such fighting capacity, so courageous, with such a magazine of experience and information, and with a character so irreproachable, could have won brilliant victories in public life at the head of even a small band of devoted followers. But Mr. Adams never had and apparently never wanted followers. Other prominent public men were brought not only into collision but into comparison with their contemporaries. But Mr. Adams’s individuality was so strong that he can be compared with no one.”
He was not fitted to cross the countryside rousing gatherings of people. There were writers and agitators who did raise the consciousness of the American people towards the injustice of slavery. There were wild abolitionists, such as John Brown, who took extreme measures and went to war with slavery.
By the way, slavery was an evil of ancient origin not exclusive to Western civilization, a fact not recognized by today’s anti-America critics.
But Adams had to walk a fine line in a House overwhelmingly controlled by his opponents. He said:
“The most insignificant error of conduct in me at this time would be my irredeemable ruin in this world; and both the ruling political parties are watching with intense anxiety for some overt act by me to set the whole pack of their hireling presses upon me.”
At any moment his opponents could combine to slander, disgrace, censure and expel him from Congress. He had to be careful not to give them the pretext. Through strength of will and a bold posture he intimidated a throng of antagonists.
Among fellow lawmakers he could count on the support of no one, but he did enjoy the steadfast enthusiasm of the voters in his district, and, as the years went by, he became the champion against slavery in Congress, and he gained many admirers nationwide. No one else had his prestige, experience, knowledge, ability, courage, and passion.
His method of attack was to present petitions from citizens for the abolition of slavery, and very often for the prohibition of the buying and selling of slaves within the District of Columbia. His stream of petitions forced the slavers to adopt a countermeasure which seemingly stymied Adams for years, yet the measure was unconstitutional and at odds with the conduct of a free government. In February 1836, the slavery interest in the House resolved that:
“1. That Congress had no power to interfere with slavery in any State;
2. That Congress ought not to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia;
3. That whereas the agitation of the subject was disquieting and objectionable, ‘all petitions, memorials, resolutions or papers, relating in any way or to any extent whatsoever to the subject of slavery or the abolition of slavery, shall, without being either printed or referred, be laid upon the table, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon.’”
This was the infamous “gag rule” that forbade any discussion of slavery. It was a mistake made by the slave-holding party: they had assumed an untenable position. Adams became the persistent advocate of the “right of petition,” and thus he gained much more leverage with the public than he could have acquired on the issue of slavery by itself.
Year after year when the House established its rules at the beginning of a new term he would stand and say:
“I hold the resolution to be a violation of the Constitution, of the right of petition of my constituents, and of the people of the United States, and of my right to freedom of speech as a member of this House.”
And each time he was confronted with a chorus of “Order! Order!” and voted down.
The public recognized him as an heroic advocate; and a torrent of petitions descended on him, all having to be read, sorted, and presented. He presented thousands of petitions, dozens or hundreds at a time, each time encountering shouts of “Order! Order!”
Some of the petitions were sent by his opponents, praying that Mr. Adams be brought to the bar of the House, censured, and expelled — he read out these petitions, welcoming such a debate, but his opponents avoided the contest.
A great game of antagonism was played out. Some of the petitions were not what they purported to be. Once he hesitated to present a petition, saying he questioned its authenticity: it claimed to be from slaves.
Before he presented it he asked the Speaker for his opinion, whereupon a great clamor arose.
Much vituperation was directed at him. There were cries of “Expel him! Expel him!” There were exclamations that the petition should “be taken from the House and burned.” He was accused of a “gross and willful violation of the rules of the House and an insult to its members.” He was threatened with criminal proceedings before a grand jury so that the people might “see an incendiary brought to condign punishment.”
It was proclaimed:
“. . . he has committed an outrage on the feelings of the people of a large portion of this Union; a flagrant contempt on the dignity of this House, and, by extending to slaves a privilege only belonging to freemen, directly incites the slave population to insurrection; and that [he] be forthwith called to the bar of the House and be censured by the speaker.”
Unperturbed Adams waited for the hubbub to subside. When the occasion arose he pointed out he had not presented the petition. He said beforehand he doubted its authenticity, and he merely asked the Speaker for his opinion of its worthiness. And furthermore the petition of the slaves requested slavery not be abolished! He suspected that the petition had not been written by the slaves themselves but by their owner — thus the air went out of the balloon, the furor dissipated, and his opponents were brought to condign humiliation.
Eventually the tide of public opinion turned against the slavery interest and John Quincy Adam’s “invincible perseverance” was rewarded. At the beginning of each term the rules of the House were established, and year after year the majority favoring the gag rule dwindled. In 1842 the majority was four; in 1843, three. In 1844 the struggle lasted for weeks. On December 3 a vote abolishing the gag rule won by one hundred eight to eighty.
“Blessed, forever blessed, be the name of God!” Adams wrote in his diary. The gag rule had stood for eight years.
On February 21, 1848, at 1:30 p.m. the Speaker was conducting business in the House when he was interrupted by cries of “Stop! Stop! — Mr. Adams!” It was thought that John Quincy Adams rose to address the speaker, but he fell over unconscious. He was surrounded by his colleagues; carried to a sofa in the hall of the rotunda; and then to the Speaker’s room.
Late in the afternoon he was heard to say, “Thank the officers of the House.” Soon afterwards he said, “This is the last of earth! I am content!” He lingered until the evening of the 23rd when he died — in the capitol building where he had fought his bitterest battles.
Presently the Left is advancing the cause of a maternal government, massive and powerful, able to succor multitudes. The American people have been incrementally lured into ever deepening dependence by political promises that cannot be kept. Intellectuals, news people, artists, poets, novelists, actors, and entertainers — most are proponents of big government. To oppose them is to be maligned as a nationalist, a fascist, or a racist. The political and bureaucratic establishment of Washington, D.C. seems solid and permanent — just as the forces supporting slavery once seemed unshakable. But it is not so.
The deceitful practices of the media, and disregard for the rule of law and impartial justice on the part of political insiders are bringing America to a crisis. But the foolish and arrogant delusions of Left will not stand.
America is unique in its Founding, in its Constitution, Bill of Rights, and in its history. We need not fall into some ugly kind of dictatorship. We have the heritage of a free people. We have the experience and memories of freedom. A revival of respect for the Constitution is possible.
What we need is the ability, courage, and most of all, the perseverance of John Quincy Adams. He at times doubted whether slavery could be overthrown, and did not live to see its passing. But he fought for its abolition nevertheless. What we need are fearless advocates for liberty; for a free economy; for justice; for the Constitution; and for the free exercise of religion. *
Editor’s note: Since December of 2010 the covers of The St. Croix Review have been graced with the exceptional artwork of my daughter, Jocelyn MacDonald. Unfortunately, because she is striving to obtain a master’s degree in fine arts, she will no longer be able do the artwork for us. But we have been very lucky to call upon the artistic talent of a nationally acclaimed painter, William Ersland. His interests include horses, the Old West, equine sports, and the natural beauty of the wildlife and landscapes of America.
Thank you so much, Jocelyn, for the gorgeous inspiration you have given us for year after year! And welcome, William, to our community. We look forward to experiencing your visions of America!
The following is a summary of the October/November issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “Lessons from the Life of John Quincy Adams” presents the story of a genuine American hero.
Barry MacDonald, in “Friends of Our Friends Campaign,” announces a new program to expand the circulation of The St. Croix Review.
Michael S. Swisher, in “An Appeal for Support,” explains how donations are essential to the continuing operation of The St. Croix Review; and offers various methods of making donations.
Paul Kengor, in “Homage to a Cold War Prophet,” remembers the life and achievements of Herb Meyer, and he reveals some of Meyer’s CIA insider information, concerning the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II; in “What Lenin Said about Christians and Socialism,” he reveals the naïveté of “social justice” Christians who assume Democratic Socialism is compatible with religious faith; in “The Last of the Bailey Brothers of World War II,” with the passing of the longest-lived brother, Dick, he writes that the five Bailey brothers are gone, and “there will no longer be a car in the Mercer Memorial Day Parade with a Bailey boy wearing World War II badges.”
Mark Hendrickson, in “Brexit: What Is at Stake?” he assesses the dangers and the arguments of both sides in Britain’s attempt to leave the European Union; in “When Humans Don’t Procreate,” he considers why people are producing fewer children, and the consequences; in “The Persistence of Poverty: Another Perspective,” he cites the difficulty of measuring accurately wealth and poverty, believes that the real poverty rate in America is about 2 percent, and believes that Big Government seeks to manage poverty — rather than alleviate it; in “Is the Federal Reserve Apolitical?” he cites examples of the political rhetoric and actions of the Fed; in “The Art of the Budget Deal: White House and Congress Cooperate?” he sums up the political calculations President Trump may be making, and he blames run-away government spending on the appetite for debt and big-spending politicians among the American voters.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Jamestown, Virginia: Commemorating 400 Years of Representative Government,” writes that 400 years ago Jamestown was the freest spot in the Western world; in “Arbitrary Executive Power: Exactly What the Framers of the Constitution Hoped to Prevent,” he makes an passionate case for the Republican Party to resume its promotion of limited government; in “Despite Running a Brutal Regime, Saudi Arabia’s Influence Is Growing in Washington,” he questions the motives of the Trump Administration, and of Congress, in their continued support of the brutal Saudi regime.
Edwin J. Feulner, in “Reflections of an Early Trump Fan,” relates his experience of working with President Donald Trump, and he explains why he believes Trump’s policies are superior to those of previous administrations.
Earl H. Tilford, in “A Time of Civility Needed Again,” describes the public courtesy exchanged between President John F. Kennedy and Alabama Governor Wallace; and Tilford cites the rude conduct of Mayor Jacob Frey, on the occasion of President Trump’s visit to Minneapolis.
Burk Brownfeld, in “Innovating with Police Recruit Training: How I Used the Documentary “Charm City” to Teach Baltimore Police,” lays emphasis on empathy in the efforts to defuse potentially dangerous interactions between city residents and police.
Robert L. Wichterman, in “Take Away Religion and There Will Not Be Enough Police to Maintain Law and Order,” suggests that a return to faith would cure many of our societal problems.
George L. Batten Jr., in “Regression Toward the Mean,” revisits the results of the 2016 presidential election, and concludes that Donald Trump won because he seemed less radical than Hillary Clinton, and thus Mr. Batten ventures a prediction of the 2020 presidential election.
Judy S. Appel, in “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme,” writes about the health benefits and pleasure that come with growing herbs in her garden.
Robert Williams, in “Growing Up American,” imparts the essential lessons he learned from his “Grandaddy.”
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer: Considering a Conservative Magazine,” reviews the origins and character of paleoconservatism, and he reviews the magazine Chronicles, which is the present-day advocate of paleoconservatism.
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives, 79: The Road to Appomattox by Bell Irvin Wiley,” he reviews a book that provides an “unvarnished picture of the South, one you will not forget.”
Our vision is to reawaken the genuine American spirit of living in a good, great, and growing nation of free-born individuals.
Our Mission is to uphold American liberty, prosperity, constitutional law, and humble government.
Ominous Events Leading to Civil War
My source for this essay is a biography from the American Statesmen series: American Statesmen: Charles Sumner, by Moorfield Storey. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900.
In 1853 the political landscape was discouraging for opponents of slavery. Both parties, Democrats and Whigs, decided that slavery could not even be discussed in Congress. The Democrats were pro-slavery, and they controlled both houses of Congress, the presidency, and the judiciary — they were thus able to make, execute, and interpret the law.
In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Bill replaced the Missouri Compromise. For three decades the Missouri Compromise had restricted slavery south and west of 36°30′, but no longer. Previously Congress regulated the territories, and Congress prescribed the conditions under which a territory might become a state. But thereafter the settlers themselves were given the power to determine their destiny, including whether to institute slavery in the territory or not.
Under the Missouri Compromise, slavery could not have entered Nebraska or Kansas, but now the settlers of the territories would take matters into their own hands. Under the Kansas-Nebraska bill, slavery could be established anywhere but in the existing free states.
Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, one of the few anti-slavery senators, said in the Senate:
“. . . Slavery, which at the beginning was a sectional institution, with no foothold anywhere on the national territory, is now exalted as national, and all our broad domain is threatened by its blighting shadow. . . .”
After the Kansas-Nebraska bill passed the Senate on the way to becoming law, Sumner said:
“Ah, Sir, senators vainly expect peace. Not in this way can peace come. In passing such a bill as is now threatened, you scatter from this dark midnight hour no seeds of harmony and good will, but broadcast through the land dragon’s teeth, which . . . may not spring up in a direful crop of armed men, yet I am assured, sir, will fructify in civil strife and feud. . . .
“Sir, it is the best bill on which Congress ever acted, for it annuls all past compromises with slavery and makes any future compromises impossible. Thus it puts Freedom and Slavery face to face, and bids them grapple. Who can doubt the result? It opens wide the door of the future, when at last there will really be a North and the slave power will be broken. . . . Everywhere within the sphere of Congress the great Northern Hammer will descend to smite the wrong, and the irresistible cry will break forth, ‘No more Slave States!’”
According to the Indian commissioner in an official report, in November 1853, there were only three white men in the Nebraska territory. According to General Houston, by treaty with the Indians, whites were then excluded from the Kansas territory, and there was not a white person in the territory.
On May 24th, 1854, an event occurred that created new tension. Anthony Burns was seized as a fugitive slave in Boston and taken to the courthouse. Abolitionists gathered and attacked the courthouse, killing a guard but failing to free Burns. It was thought that Charles Sumner’s speech, quoted above, had inspired the abolitionists, and Sumner was warned to be watchful of his safety.
Between files of soldiers and a silent crowd, Anthony Burns was taken through the streets of Boston, and back to slavery. It was believed the spectacle made many new abolitionists.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was much resented in the North because it imposed the responsibility on local law enforcement officers everywhere to assist slave hunters in the task of capturing and returning escaped slaves. People who detested slavery were forced either to defy a federal law or to ignore their conscience.
A petition was introduced in the Senate for the repeal of Fugitive Slave Law in June 1854, and a debate was joined. Charles Sumner was asked by Senator Butler of South Carolina, in light of the law: “Will this honorable senator tell me that he will do it?”
Sumner replied, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing? . . . The senator asked me if I would help to reduce a fellow man to bondage. I answered him.”
“Then you would not obey the Constitution. Sir, standing here before this tribunal, where you swore to support it, you rise and tell me that you regard it the office of a dog to enforce it. You stand in my presence as a coequal senator, and tell me that it is a dog’s office to execute the Constitution of the United States.”
Because of his willingness to stand against the slave partisans Senator Sumner was seen as a leader in the anti-slavery movement and he received much abuse. Senator Clay of Alabama had this to say of Sumner:
“. . . a sneaking, sinuous, snake-like poltroon. . . . If we cannot restrain or prevent this eternal warfare upon the feelings and rights of Southern gentlemen, we may rob the serpent of his fangs, we can paralyze his influence, by placing him in that nadir of social degradation which he merits.”
In the North, Senator Sumner was respected as a man “that ain’t a-feared.”
The efforts to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law failed in the Congress, but there were changes in the offing. The Northern states acted. The Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. Vermont and Massachusetts required a writ of habeas corpus, and trial by jury before a slave could be returned. Similar actions undertaken by the Northern states were intended to nullify the Fugitive Slave Law and were called “personal liberty bills.”
In 1854 the Whig party collapsed and was replaced with the Republican Party founded in opposition to slaveholders. The emergence of the Republican Party is a worthy story in itself, but it is enough now to note that from the beginning Republicans valued freedom.
In passing the Kansas-Nebraska bill the pro-slavery party counted on emigration from Missouri to populate the territory with pro-slavery voters, but they had aroused a spirit of resistance. Emigration Aid Societies were begun in Northern states and Northern immigrants came in greater numbers than expected. All the efforts of the slavery interest were put in jeopardy by a legal and energetic movement of settlers into Kansas.
In response, associations were formed in Missouri and other slave states to expel the Northerners. They asserted the right to bring slaves with them into Kansas. They would use force to make Kansas a slave state.
Andrew H. Reeder became the first governor of Kansas in October 1854. He was a pro-slavery Democrat from Pennsylvania. In November a delegate was elected to Congress; in March 1855, a territorial legislature was elected — in both elections — for the governor and legislature — armed residents from Missouri drove Kansas settlers away from the polls, and more than half the votes cast were illegal.
These facts were known and admitted by Governor Reeder himself, but nevertheless he certified the legality of the proceedings. Because Governor Reeder had certified the results, the president of the United States had an excuse for not acting.
The fraudulent legislature met in July 1855, to adopt for Kansas the complete body of laws then existing in Missouri — including the laws favoring slavery.
The “Free-Soilers” of Kansas met at Lawrence and resolved to send delegates to a convention for Kansas. The convention met in October at Topeka, prohibited slavery, and forbade the settlement of free colored people. The “Topeka constitution” was to be ratified by a vote of Kansans in December. A petition was sent to Congress for the admission of Kansas as a state — with the Topeka constitution.
Thus Congress was presented with the choice of accepting a state government for Kansas created either by Missourians or Kansans.
Events intervened before the ratification of the Topeka constitution. The rescue of a prisoner from a pro-slavery sheriff induced Governor Shannon, who had replaced Governor Reeder, to call for troops. A force of Missourians crossed the border and assumed the posture of Kansas militia. They encamped near Lawrence. War was imminent when Governor Shannon backed down, made a treaty with the Kansans, and ordered the Missourians to withdraw.
The Topeka constitution was then ratified, and the pro-slavery men did not vote. On the same day, U.S. Senator Atchison from Missouri, who was a leader of the pro-slavers, appealed to the South to send men and money to Kansas. He said:
“Twelve months will not elapse before war — civil war of the fiercest kind — will be upon us. We are arming and preparing for it.”
State elections were held in January 1856, under the Topeka constitution, and there was strife and bloodshed. Another invasion from Missouri was anticipated and the free state leaders telegraphed President Pierce for protection. The president sent a message to Congress in January, in which he blamed the Northern Emigrant Aid Societies for the struggle. While acknowledging that the behavior of the Missourians was “illegal and reprehensible,” he wrote that Governor Reeder’s certification of the first election (though half the votes were illegal) was binding, and he was therefore left powerless to interfere. He wrote that he would employ all the force at his disposal to put down any resistance to federal or territorial laws, and protect the people of Kansas; but he would do so only if the territorial authorities — those elected by fraud and violence, not those elected under the Topeka constitution — requested such assistance. He would respond to requests only from the slaveholders.
In March 1856, debate began in the U.S. Senate on what to do with Kansas. The majority reported a bill, read by Democrat Stephen A. Douglas that recognized the slave-holding government as legitimate. Senator Douglas followed the president in blaming the Emigrant Aid Societies. Senator Charles Sumner presented a rival bill that admitted Kansas under the Topeka constitution.
Senator Douglas engaged in bitter rhetoric calling Senator Trumbull a “traitor,” and stating that “black Republicans” wanted an amalgamation of the white and colored races.
In Kansas armed incursions from Missouri continued. An officer made a report that:
“There are probably five to seven hundred armed men on the pro-slavery side organized into companies. . . . For the last two or three days these men have been stationed between Lawrence and Lecompton, stopping and disarming all free state men, making some prisoners, and in many cases pressing the horses of free state settlers into service.
“On May 21, Lawrence was attacked, the presses and machinery of two newspapers were destroyed; the Free State Hotel and other dwellings burned; the stores looted.”
On May 19 Senator Sumner made a speech entitled “The Crime Against Kansas” in the Senate. He addressed Senator Butler, comparing him to Don Quixote:
“The senator from South Carolina has read many books of chivalry, and believes himself a chivalrous knight, with sentiments of honor and courage. Of course he has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight: I mean the harlot Slavery. . . . The frenzy of Don Quixote in behalf of his wench Dulcinea del Toboso is all surpassed. . . . If the slave states cannot enjoy what, in mockery of the great fathers of the Republic, he misnames Equality under the Constitution — in other words, the full power in the national territories to compel fellow men to unpaid toil, to separate husband and wife, and to sell little children at the auction block — then, sir, the chivalric senator will conduct the State of South Carolina out of the Union! Heroic knight! Exalted senator! A second Moses come for a second exodus! . . .”
Senator Sumner addressed Senator Douglas:
“The senator dreams that he can subdue the North. He disclaims the open threat, but his conduct implies it. How little that senator knows himself of the strength of the cause which he persecutes! He is but mortal man; against him is immortal principle. With finite power he wrestles with the infinite, and he must fall. Against him are stronger battalions than any marshaled by mortal arm — the inborn, ineradicable, invincible sentiments of the human heart; against him is Nature with all her subtle forces; against him is God. Let him try to subdue these. . . .”
He returned to Senator Butler:
“Were the whole history of South Carolina blotted out of existence, from its very beginning down to the day of the last election of the Senator to his present seat on this floor, civilization might lose — I do not say how little, but surely less than it has already gained by the example of Kansas, in that valiant struggle against oppression, and in the development of a new science of emigration. . . . Ah, sir, I tell the senator that Kansas, welcomed as a free State, ‘a ministering angel shall be’ to the Republic when South Carolina, in the cloak of darkness which she hugs, ‘lies howling.’”
Many Senators condemned the Senator’s comments. Mason of Virginia said:
“I am constrained to hear here depravity, vice in its most odious form uncoiled in this presence, exhibiting its loathsome deformities in accusation and vilification against the quarter of the country from which I come; and I must listen to it because it is a necessity of my position, under a common government, to recognize as an equal politically one whom to see elsewhere is to shun and despise.”
To the vituperation of Senator Douglas, Sumner replied:
“. . . no person with the upright form of a man can be allowed, without violation of all decency, to switch out from his tongue the perpetual stench of offensive personality. Sir, that is not a proper weapon of debate, at least on this floor. The noisome, squat, and nameless animal to which I now refer is not the proper model for an American senator. Will the senator from Illinois take notice?”
On May 22 the Senate adjourned early. Sumner remained at his desk writing letters. Preston S. Brooks, a representative of South Carolina and the son of Senator Butler’s cousin approached Sumner and said:
“I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina and on Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine.”
Then he struck Sumner with repeated blows on the head using a heavy gutta-percha cane. Sumner struggled to his feet, wrenching from the floor the desk that was bolted down. He stood briefly but fell unconscious under the continuing strokes until Brooks’ cane broke.
Senator Toombs of Georgia witnessed and approved the assault:
“They were very rapid, and as hard as he could hit. They were hard licks, and very effective.”
Brooks said of his actions in the House of Representatives:
“I went to work very deliberately, as I am charged — and this is admitted — and speculated somewhat as to whether I should employ a horsewhip or a cowhide; but knowing that the senator was my superior in strength, it occurred to me that he might wrest it from my hand, and then — for I never attempt anything I do not perform — I might have been compelled to do that which I would have regretted the balance of my natural life.”
Senator Sumner’s head was bruised and gashed. He lost a lot of blood. His thick hair may have saved his skull from fracturing. He regained consciousness and his head was sewed up. He was taken to his lodgings and expressed a desire to rejoin the debate as soon as he was able. Though the attack did not kill him, it left him debilitated for many years.
A committee was formed in the Senate to decide what to do about the assault. The committee was made up entirely of Sumner’s opponents. The conclusion was that the Senate could not arrest a member of the House, and could not try and punish him — the House would have to deal with the matter.
In the House a committee was appointed, made up of three Northern Republicans and two Southern Democrats. The majority recommended the expulsion of Brooks, and the minority claimed that the House had no jurisdiction over the assault “alleged to have been committed.”
Brooks was tried in the Circuit Court of the District and was fined three hundred dollars.
The resolution to expel Brooks did not gain the two-thirds votes necessary, but a resolution censuring him did pass. Brooks resigned from the House and returned to South Carolina on July 14. A vote was held and he was reelected to the House, receiving all but six votes cast from his fellow South Carolinians. On August 1 he again took the oath to uphold the Constitution as a member of the House.
In October his constituents gave him a public dinner, “in testimony of their complete endorsement of his congressional course.” Jefferson Davis, the secretary of war, wrote of his “high regard and esteem” for Brooks, and of his:
“. . . sympathy with the feeling which prompted the sons of Carolina to welcome the return of a brother who has been the subject of vilification, misrepresentation, and persecution because he resented a libelous assault upon the reputation of their mother.”
Students at the University of Virginia voted to send Brooks a cane with “a heavy gold head, which will be suitably inscribed, and also bear upon it a device of the human head badly cracked and broken.” The Richmond Enquirer wrote:
“In the main, the press of the South applauds the conduct of Mr. Brooks without condition or limitation. Our approbation, at least, is entire and unreserved; we consider the act good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in the consequence. . . . It was a proper act, done at the proper time and in the proper place.”
In the North the resolve to oppose slavery hardened. The brutal nature of the assault brought home the dehumanizing effects of slavery on both master and slave. The essential barbarism of slavery was made clear in an instant, and the nature of “Southern chivalry” exposed.
The retelling of American history is intended to show that partisan divisions have been worse than they are today. The legacy of slavery, including the Jim Crow laws, has been terrible. But the old south is gone, and resolute Americans played their parts in seeing it off.
“We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity.” — Theodore Roosevelt *
The following is a summary of the August/September issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “Ominous Events Leading to Civil War,” writes about the events of “bloody Kansas,” and about the beating of Senator Charles Sumner, nearly to death, in the Senate chamber in 1856.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Identity Politics vs. the Older Goal of a Color-Blind Society,” reminds Americans that after the Civil War blacks decided to remain in America as Americans, instead of returning to Africa because they believed they were Americans; in “The Continuing Assault Upon American History: A Self-Righteous Display of Narrowness of Vision,” he points out that the American constitution is a marvel of world history; and that many prominent Founders strove to abolish slavery at the Constitutional Convention, while slavery remained a legal institution in all the nations of the world; in “July 4: A Time not Only to Celebrate, but to Reflect on the Fragility of Free Societies,” he presents evidence of the fragility of free government in world history, and writes of the many challenges to preservation of American freedom.
Mark W. Hendrickson, in “The Degrees of Fake News,” cites various types of fake news — the crucial question is whether the inaccuracies are unintentional or are deliberate and malicious; in “Questioning the Morality of Minimum Wage Laws,” he lists seven reasons why minimum wage laws are dubious and destructive; in “The Economics of Pro Athletes’ Mega-salaries,” addresses the stratospheric salaries of profession athletes ethically and objectively; in “Don’t Use Church Closings as an Excuse to Bash Capitalism,” he points out that the freedoms of capitalism allow people to make worthy or unworthy decisions, but also promotes overall prosperity, much more so than socialism; in “The Problem With Experts,” he cites examples from economics and climate science to show that media-empowered “experts” make educated guesses when complexities are unpredictable..
Paul Kengor, in “On Ronald Reagan’s ‘Racism’ — A Single Mistake Does Not a Racist Make,” answers critics who would tar a tremendous president’s reputation over a single remark; in “Review of Mark Levin’s Unfreedom of the Press,” he presents Mark Levin’s scathing examination of the leftist American media; in “Offending Christians: The Bladensburg Cross Case,” he addresses the continuing legal assault by the Left on religious freedom in America.
William Adair Bonner, in “NO BORDERS * NO BOSSES * NO BINARIES” presents an alarming and historical look at socialist activities and agendas in the U.S.
Twila Brase, in “Burdensome Regulations Pushing Doctors Out of Medicine,” writes that doctors are motivated to improve and save patients’ lives, but they are frustrated by Congress, regulators, and payers who force them to prioritize data entry and third-party protocols over patient care.
Timothy Goeglein, in “Restoring a Divided America,” sees that there are presently “two Americas” — as Americans are bitterly divided of between those who cherish America’s Judeo-Christian worldview and founding principles, and those who reject them. Timothy promotes his book, which he wrote with Craig Osten, American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation.
Al Shane, in “Dissent or Something Else,” speaks for many of us as he observes the reckless and rabid actions of the Left, and wonders whether they can any longer be described as “the loyal opposition.”
Alan Duff, in “Challenges,” assesses the encumbrance of growing government in America, and reminds us that we are a great nation.
Judy Appel, in “Flowers,” presents a vivid example of the American dream.
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer: Negative Elements,” relates the experience of encountering supposedly “idealistic” progressives; those whom he meets instead are really condescending leftists.
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives, 78: More News from Nowhere,” reviews The Patriot Game: National Dreams and Political Realities, by Peter Brimelow. The book is about the national character of Canada, and Jigs shares his frank opinions.
While my lilac bushes aren’t very thick
It’s hard to mow the grass underneath them
Or to rake the leaves surrounding them as
Their branches fork at odd angles and each
Branch will sprout many shoots — and because the
Bushes aren’t very thick at a glance it
Seems that nothing is in the way — but when
I approach them suddenly I am stopped
Tangled and scratched and held at a distance —
And if I can reach the leaves under the
Bushes the rake is caught in a stubborn
And interlocking net of sinewy
Defiance as I encounter the wild
And resourceful life of lilac bushes.
I imposed order
on the periphery
with a ladder a saw
and a hedge clipper.
When I close my eyes when facing the sun
I see a marvelous red light that is
The sunlight filtered by my eyelids — and
My face is bathed in the beating of the
Sun and after a few minutes I am
A little dizzy — and the red sunlight
Warming my face helps me to imagine
Myself a tomato under the sky
With nothing to do all day but listen
To the drone of cars and machinery
In the distance and absorb the force of
The persisting sunlight enveloping
And tranquilizing me in unceasing
Dissolving forgetful meditation.
A boy on a walk in Iowa was
Curious about an odd looking stone
And the stone fit snuggly in the palm of
His hand and the stone had been chipped and flaked
And it was weighty and edged and fashioned
For cutting and scraping and maybe the
Stone had laid on the ground for a thousand
Or ten thousand years — was buried under
The dirt and unearthed or was exposed to
Unnumbered starry nights obdurate to
The wind the snow the rain and the glare of
The sun until a boy in Iowa
Noticed an odd stone on the ground — and its
Weight and shape within his palm was perfect.
The bee hummingbird is an exquisite
Native of Cuba with fluttering wings
Iridescent feathers and a pointy
Little beak and the bird and its nectar
Are coincident because one could not
Exist without the other — just as I
Could not exist without the sky the rain
And the earth — this is what the earth has come
To with hummingbirds and flowers and rain
And people — as we are emerging out
Of the trillions and trillions of degrees
That was coincident with the little
Space that was expanding rapidly that
The scientists are naming the big bang.
The bee hummingbird
and me are a
the big bang.
What does the air do to a butterfly
As it emerges from a Chrysalis
Not having been a butterfly before
And discovering that it has wings — and
Does it fall and flutter as it falls or
Does it arouse itself and beat the air
With its wings to rise into the air for
Its initial flight — and is it a strain
On a butterfly’s heart to push down on
The air as its beating heart is in sync
With its sashaying manner — and is the
Air the same air the gliding eagle or
The acrobatic swallow knows or is
It living in a different cosmos?
What does the
butterfly think as
it encounters drops
of rain and a
Our vision is to reawaken the genuine American spirit of living in a good, great, and growing nation of free individuals.
Our Mission is to uphold American liberty, prosperity, constitutional law, and humble government.
The Impetus of Accusation and the Rock of America
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
How can we defeat the people who are brazen and destructive enough to turn gender identity into a political weapon?
The Left manipulates the emotionally vulnerable who are confused about their sexuality, and counsels them that though they may have been born a man or a woman, if they really do perceive themselves to be of the opposite gender, then they should identify as the opposite gender — in spite of biological facts.
That the Left would seize upon emotionally vulnerable people to advance a political agenda reveals that the Left is exceedingly cunning and unscrupulous.
And the Left proclaims that anyone who doesn’t fully agree with their upside-down agenda — and more than that — that anyone who isn’t enthusiastically supportive of their agenda, is therefore hateful and oppressive.
The Left is exploiting vulnerable people, using fragile people, as wedge to attack the cohesion of the entire American culture. Leftists pose as sensitive and compassionate, and they portray opponents as indifferent and depraved — and by the way, white, male, and hierarchical.
The Left gains impetus with accusation. Through the brutality of repeated accusation, magnified by media and entertainment, the left barrages their opponents, demonizing and delegitimizing them — their opposition, according to them, is beneath contempt, the threat is existential, and all means are permissible for victory.
The Left relies on the force of accusation, and the accusation is like a magician’s trick: all the attention is focused on the target and away from the accuser. In the media the accused is presumed guilty and the accuser is elevated as a martyr. The motives of the accuser are not questioned.
The Left has been succeeding because it has perfected the art of accusation. American’s news reports and political discourse are saturated with the bitterness of accusation. Accusation is so pervasive in our political discourse it is like the oxygen we breathe — we hardly notice that we are enveloped in it.
It’s the genius of the Left that they are unpredictable. Ten years ago who could have guessed that gender identity would be fashioned into a political weapon? Who knows what institution or tradition will be assaulted next?
But the Left is vulnerable. Because the Left isn’t moored to core principles their fury and energy always propels them further and further to the extremes, and presently, their perversity and fanaticism is becoming obvious. Leftists are becoming more and more transparently nonsensical and poisonous.
Conservatives are defending the rule of law, the presumption of innocence, and American liberty. We are promoting the freedom of our economic choices. And we are champions of broad-based economic prosperity. We love our nation and we are defending stalwart institutions — like motherhood and fatherhood and parenting. If we retain our faith in God, and if we continue to defend our constitutional liberties, we will be preserving our strength of character.
As the Left becomes more and more strident and intolerant of opposition they are revealing themselves as the totalitarians that they are. And at the same time we conservatives are gathering the strength and resolve that comes from defending worthy American virtues. *
The following is a summary of the June/July issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “The Impetus of Accusation and the Rock of America,” summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the Left and Right in America.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Political Correctness Out of Control: The Strange Assault on Singer Kate Smith Who Introduced “God Bless America,” comments on intolerance dressed up as high-mindedness; in “The Founding Fathers Feared Excessive Executive Power — So Should We,” he reminds Americans that the Framers feared the tyrants, and sought to promote representative democracy; in “Can Congress Reassert Its War-Making Power? Yemen Is Now a Test Case,” he cites the current example of U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen as a usurpation of Congress’ war-making authority by two Presidents; in “Are Conservatives Becoming Comfortable with Growing Executive Power?” he reminds conservatives of the supreme difficulty involved in preserving liberty from the corrupting effects of centralizing power.
Paul Kengor, in “Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Racist Abortion Position — They Couldn’t Be Prouder of Their Genocidal Commitments,” exposes the cruelty and indifference underlying Joe Biden’s flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment; in “The ‘Today Show’ Celebrates Communist Holiday,” he reveals the history of International Women’s Day, and of Clara Zetkin, who as an active comrade of Lenin and Stalin. She was a German socialist-Marxist who is buried in the wall of the Kremlin, near Vladimir Lenin; in “What ‘Deep Christian Convictions’ of ‘Democratic Socialism’”? he applies his expert knowledge of socialism and Communism to refute a professor who attempts to meld Christianity and socialism.
Mark Hendrickson, in “The Evolving Social Context of Parenting,” provides a historical and comprehensive look at the challenges and joys of parenting; in “Educational Malpractice on a Massive Scale: The Exploitation and Indoctrination of Children,” he writes: “Teaching the green agenda of climate alarmism in schools is child abuse. It’s diabolical, wrong, and un-American. It must be stopped.” In “Was Last Weekend a Portent of Things to Come?” he considers a week’s worth of headlines and sees unrestrained Leftism verging on violence.
Rev. Kenneth L. Beale, the Senior Chaplain at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers a “Prayer for President Donald J. Trump.”
Alan Duff, in “One Nation, Under God,” writes that our nation’s religious values are founded on proven principles that liberate the “human spirit,” and they have produced our unprecedented prosperity.
William Adair Bonner, in “What Is American Education Focused On?” reports on the direction academic leaders taking when they gather for conferences.
Thomas Martin, in “What Would People Do, if They Could Get Away with It?” asks his students how would they use a ring — a magic ring.
Robert L. Wichterman, in “A Growing Divide in America,” writes about America’s dangerous cultural and political fractures.
Richard Doyle, in “Civilization — Evolution and Devolution,” writes that civilization is precarious, and depends upon marital fidelity and the stability of the family.
Judy S. Appel, in “Garden Gloves,” writes about gardening and the sharing of duties.
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer: My Vegetable Gardens,” passes on the lessons of a lifetime of raising gardens.
Jigs Gardner, in “Writers for Conservatives, 77: Thomas Sowell,” reviews Black Redneck and White Liberals, by Thomas Sowell.
Ray Sinneck, in “Where Are We Heading?” comments on the introduction of the wealth tax into political contention — he believes we are heading towards “democratic totalitarianism.”
The apple blossoms were in the puddles
On the pavement after the pelting of
The rain — looking like the confetti on
The street after a parade — but we missed
The parade this year as the blooms were just
Starting to appear when an overnight
Downpour broke the connections of petals
With the trees and I feel a little sad
That the joyous parade of my driving
By the flowering trees has passed me by
This year because I love seeing the blooms
As a celebration of beauty that
Always accompanies the return of
Spring and the resurrection of the trees.
But now I see
many of the trees
have yet to reach
their full flowering and
I’m just being gloomy.
It is a bubble of a thought that burst
A moment before its proper time or
You could say it’s a hiccup or even
An interruption of a really good
Inspiration that led to something quite
A bit better than itself later on
But as it is doesn’t cohere into
A complete package that elicits a
Sense of satisfaction — as it looks like
A compendium of nonsensical
Elements that are fine enough if they
Were separate but together they are
Ridiculous — so I have to remark
Who could imagine the platypus?
And yet it swims
gracefully and waddles
along on land — and lays
its eggs and deploys
venom and growls.
It can’t be seen by only looking at
A person but once the conversation
Begins and honest words are exchanged then
I can see the battered appearance and
I can sense the depth of sincerity
In the selection of words and the in
Quiet and measured pace of expression
And then I know here is a kind and a
Well meaning person who has suffered and
Has determined to use intelligence
And experience and whatever pride
There might have been is washed away and now
There is a poise and a readiness to
Respond with a wealth of humility.
There is a sweetness
that only arises
from suffering and
to be helpful.
Michelangelo was fired with a
Conception of God surrounded by his
Angels in heaven reaching out with his
Index finger to touch the finger of
Adam on Earth and perhaps in the act
God effected a transference of a
Tinge of divinity and a freedom
Of choice allowing for a growth into
The humane or for a dissipation
Into evil and by the Renaissance
In Italy evil was already
Old in the world and people needed their
Consolations and inspirations and
We really aren’t much different today.
Did Adam feel like
I did when opening
a tin of cat food
and slicing the tip of
my index finger?
I don’t begrudge the critical voice its
Imposing place within my awareness
Because I need a check on selfishness
And a sense of justice and decency
But it’s easy to belittle myself
And to disparage the things I have done
And nothing is more destructive of my
Peace than persistently negative thought
And the daily tenor of my thinking
Has the capacity to destroy my
Chances for happiness if I give my
Punishing monologue too much power
But I don’t believe I’m alone in thought —
In the quiet the divine emerges.
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
The following is a brief statement of the editorial vision and principles of the foundation, Religion & Society, and its publication The St. Croix Review.
A political and cultural movement has established itself in the United States that includes politicians, public intellectuals; entertainers; artists; writers; academics; lawyers; news organizations; cartoonists; think tanks; bureaucrats; educators; churches and synagogues; corporations; and the new tech barons consisting of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
This political and cultural movement behaves as an exclusionary ruling class that dominates the United States through the government and bureaucracy centered in Washington, D.C.; the institutions of law; the education of children and adolescents; the selection and matriculation of future leaders through acceptance into the nation’s elite universities; the messages communicated in news and entertainment; the instructions imparted by religious institutions; the presentation of content to be viewed in museums; the enticement, management, and sanctuary given to illegal immigrants.
The presumptuous ruling class has adopted revolutionary means to manipulate mass consciousness; to grasp power for themselves; to maintain a system of domination; and to undermine and overthrow liberty-enhancing traditional American values, using:
The ruling class is hostile to:
Religion and Society and The St. Croix Review oppose the ruling class by means of:
Religion and Society and The St. Croix Review upholds:
Our Vision is to reawaken the genuine American spirit of living in a good, great, and growing nation of free individuals.
Our Mission is to uphold American liberty, prosperity, constitutional law, and humble government. *