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Monday, February 2, 2009

Pope Pius IX and the Confederacy


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: One of the most overlooked facts of the American Civil War Era is the sympathy the South gained from Europe's most influential monarch - the pope of Rome.

Pope Pius IX never actually signed any kind of alliance or 'statement of support' with the Confederate States of America, but to those who understand the nuance of papal protocol, what he did do was quite astonishing. He acknowledged President Jefferson Davis as the "Honorable President of the Confederate States of America."

From this we can glean three things about Pope Pius IX...
  1. He called Jefferson Davis by the customary title "Honorable."
  2. He acknowledged him as president of a nation.
  3. In doing so, he (at least on a personal level) effectively recognized the Confederate States of America as a sovereign entity, separate from the United States of America.
News of this reached the North, and the Whitehouse was considerably irate about it, prompting a response from the Vatican that the pope's letter did not amount to an "official" recognition in the "formal sense."

The pope's letter to Jefferson Davis was accompanied by an autographed picture of the pope.

There are many possible reasons why this pontiff would be sympathetic to the CSA and her president, but the most likely one was that Pope Pius IX recognized in the traditional Christian culture of the South, a mindset opposed to the advance of liberal Modernism. You see it was Pius IX who composed the famous "Syllabus of Errors," which condemned the Modernist philosophies of liberalism, humanism, secularism and marxism. It is speculated that Pius IX saw in the Confederacy a political movement steeped in European Christian tradition, and therefore a potential ally against liberal modernism on the North American continent. Alas, the Confederacy was ultimately defeated, and President Davis was captured. As the 'Deconstruction' of the South commenced, and Davis awaited his trial, it is understandable why the pope would be sympathetic.

Pope Pius IX was a revered figure in the post war South. General Robert E. Lee kept a portrait of him in his house, and referred to him as the South's only true friend during her time of need. Both Davis and Lee were Episcopalians, as were many Southerners before the War, a denomination which had many things in common with Catholicism before the 20th century influence of Modernism of course. Davis was frequently visited by Southern Catholic nuns during his imprisonment, who delivered messages for him and prayed for his release. He eventually was released, having never stood trial, on the grounds that he committed no real crime. It is believed the majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court at that time acknowledged the right of secession.

Southern Americans of today should take comfort knowing that the old Confederacy did have a European friend, and it just happened to be one of the most respected men in the world - not only a head of state, but also the leader of the world's largest Christian religion. The day will come when Pope Pius IX will be canonized as a Saint. He has already been beatified, which puts him well on his way. When that day comes, Southerners will have a special bragging right, not enjoyed by many nations even today. They will not only be able to boast of his sympathies during and after the great War, but they will also have in their collective possession a relic of the man - a hand written letter and autographed photograph.

On The American Civil War:

The American Civil War cannot be cast in the simplistic terms of pro-slavery verses anti-slavery. Lincoln said the war had nothing to do with slavery, and General U.S. Grant said that if he thought the war was about freeing the slaves, he would turn in his sword and fight for the other side. Grant was also a slave owner before, during and after the war.

In contrast, General Robert E. Lee was an abolitionist. Many Southerners shared his views. President Jefferson Davis requested land owners to promise their slaves freedom in exchange for military service. The abolition movement was also growing in the South before the war. The 13th Amendment that legally freed the slaves, (not the Emancipation Proclamation), was actually ratified by many Southern states before many Northern states.

The historical fact is that the Civil War was a conflict between TWO slave nations - the USA and the CSA. Granted, the USA had already banned slavery in some states, but the same movement was growing in some CSA states as well. Historical revisionists have spent a little over 100 years trying to paint the Civil War as some idealistic holy crusade against the injustice of slavery. That image doesn't hold up to the historical facts. The Civil War was mainly about money and power - particularly taxes and investments. What the South did was no different than what America's Founding Fathers did during the American Revolution. Both were acts of rebellion and armed insurrection. Both attempted to establish free and independent nations. Both were dominated by slave economies. The only difference between them is this. In the American Revolution the rebels won. In the American Civil War they didn't.

18 comments:

Weetabix said...

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason. "

The Catholic Knight said...

Indeed, all of America's Founding Fathers were traitors, but nobody calls them that, because the won their insurrection. The Confederates will always be called traitors though, for no other reason than because they lost their insurrection. Had they won, they would be "Founding Fathers" of their own nation. As you quote: "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

I've always found it amusing that anyone would dare call any American a "traitor," regardless of his political views or ideas, when America itself was founded on treason.

ghost said...

There was another letter from the Vatican's Secretary of State (note that it also acknowledges all official titles and refers to the war in America as between two 'countries')-

"ROME, December 2, 1864.

Messrs. A. Dudley Mann, J. M. Mason, John Slidell, Commissioners of the Confederate States of America, Paris.

HONORABLE GENTLEMEN: Your colleague, Mr. Soutter, has handed me your letter of 11th November, with which, in conformity with the instructions of your Government, you have sent me a copy of the manifesto issued by the Congress of the Confederate States and approved by the most honorable President, in order that the attention of the government of the Holy See, to whom, as well as to the other Governments, you have addressed yourselves, might be called to it. The sentiments expressed in the manifesto tending, as they do, to the cessation of the most bloody war which still rages in your countries and the putting an end to the disasters which accompany it by proceeding to negotiations for peace, being entirely in accordance with the disposition and character of the august head of the Catholic Church, I did not hesitate a moment in bringing it to the notice of the Holy Father. His Holiness, who has been deeply afflicted by the accounts of the frightful carnage of this obstinate struggle, has heard with satisfaction the expression of the same sentiments; being the vicar on earth of that God who is the author of peace, he yearns to see these wraths appeased and peace restored. In proof of this he wrote to the arch-bishops of New York and New Orleans as far back as 18th October, 1862. inviting them to exert themselves in bringing about this holy object. You may then, honorable gentlemen, feel well assured that whenever a favorable occasion shall present itself, his holiness will not fail to avail himself of it to hasten so desirable a result and that all nations may be united in the bonds of charity. In acquainting you with this benignant disposition of the Holy Father, I am pleased to declare myself with sentiments of the most distinguished esteem.

Truly, your servant, G. Car. Antonelli. [Del S. S. L’I’mo.]"

Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. / Series II, Volume 3: Proclamations, Appointments, etc. of President Davis; State Department Correspondence with Diplomatic Agents,etc, pp.1249-1250

Anonymous said...

Well Written. I wonder if I might reprint it in a SCV newsletter? You can access current and past issues here: http://wadehamptoncamp.org/gwh-d.html
Please e-mail me if you will allow and how you wish the credits for the article to appear.
- Paul
pcgmailbox-333@yahoo.com

Jon said...

Greetings. You make the statement that the Civil War was mainly about money and power-particularly taxes and investments. Could you go into further detail about this with references? Thank you. Jon Farr

The Catholic Knight said...

Sure Jon, I'll be happy to. Without writing a history book I'll just scratch the surface here, and you can feel free to check the historical references on this.

Basically this is the gist of it. The Civil War (if we're gonna call it that, because technically it wasn't one) was not about slavery - at least not directly - however, the slave economy did play an underpinning roll in the events leading up to, during and after the conflict. That being said, it often isn't what most people think, and when you really examine the historical events in context, you'll often find that things happened for the exact opposite reason than you would have expected.

Now to just sum things up, without getting too technical, both the Northern and Southern economies were locked up in slavery - 100% - locked in. Neither one could get out of it without financial ruin. (Only a king could make that happen, and the United States dispensed of that "novelty" some 80 prior to the Civil War.) That being said however, it was the Northern economy, not the Southern economy, that was making most of the profits. This is because the banking sector of the United States was in the North, and if a Southerner wanted to get a loan to build a farm, he had to go to a Northern banking company. Now it was the standard practice for Northern banks to assess Southern property at near worthless levels. It was considered "undesirable" climate. Therefore, the Southern farmer had to put up his farming equipment as collateral, and if he didn't have enough, the bank would tell him to go by a couple slaves to use as collateral - preferably a man and a woman - for obvious reasons. Woman slave helps the wife in the home, while man slave helps the husband on the farm. Of course the two slaves would likely be married too, and of course that produces more little slaves to use as collateral as well. Yes, I know, this is sickening, but I'm afraid that's just how things work in a slave economy. (Thank you England and Spain for this awful inheritance!) So to make a long story short, the average Southern farmer didn't really own his slaves, the Northern banks did. Likewise, the average Southern farmer couldn't emancipate his slaves, because technically he didn't really own them. If he emancipated them, he would be left with the debt, no collateral, and less help around the farm to pay it off.

Okay, now that you've got the basics of how the American slave economy worked, let's introduce the events of the 1860s. With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (a fluke three-way election by the way, in which Lincoln won with a minority of votes), Congress passed the Morrill Tariff, which taxed all farming equipment and supplies imported from Europe, primarily to the South, because that's where the majority of farms were. It was a protective tariff, designed to help Northern manufacturers of farm equipment, and simultaneously fund the transcontinental railroad project. The Southern states were furious about this, because it affected them more than all the other states, and they viewed this as a kind of political punishment inflicted upon them by the growing abolition movement in the United States Congress. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, because it was a financial burden on the Southern states which had already seen most of the tax money collected in the South go to build infrastructure in the North, while Southerners continued to drive over dirt roads and shoddy bridges. If the Morrill Tariff was passed into law, the Southern States threatened to secede, and if Lincoln were elected (viewed by many to be a dangerous radical) they would REALLY secede. Well, both events happened, and so the Southern states made good on their word and seceded....

The Catholic Knight said...

Now President James Buchanan is recorded in many of our public school history books as a weak president. In actuality he was an honorable man, because he understood that once the Southern states seceded, he had no constitutional power to do anything about it. However, he was a lame duck president, and when Lincoln was sworn in as president in March of 1861 he immediately gave order to start raising a federal army. Lincoln was beholden to the Northern banks, which understood that the secession of the Southern states meant the potential loss of millions of dollars in investments on farm loans, especially if the South ever decided to free their slaves. (Incidentally, the abolition movement was growing in the South too, and the threat of that eventually happening grew with secession because now the Southerners could print their own money and start their own banks which would have assessed Southern farmland at a greater value than the Northern banks. Thus the need for slave collateral would have decreased considerably over time.) In other words, the Northern banks stood to lose a ton of money - I mean a lot of money - the kind of money that might cripple the Northern economy.

In April of 1861, President Lincoln gave the order to supply Fort Sumpter in Charleston Harbor with the necessary provisions to begin stopping incoming ships to collect the Morrill Tariff. By this time South Carolina had already seceded, formed the Confederacy with other states, and considered itself a separate independent country. Thus Lincoln's actions were the equivalent of Canada supplying a fort in New York Harbor to collect some kind of tax for Canada, OR England doing the same to collect taxes for the king! (Sound familiar?) Now South Carolina had been telling the Union troops to vacate all United States forts in Southern territory for some time, and had made it very well known that any Union attempt to supply those forts with provisions and munitions would be considered an act of war. So when the Union naval ship pulled into Charleston Harbor, Confederate General Beauregard gave the order to fire on the fort. The battle lasted just one day, and interestingly enough, there were zero casualties. However, Lincoln now had the provocation he needed for a full scale invasion....

The Catholic Knight said...

Interestingly enough, the slave economy comes back into central focus immediately after the war's end. As the South had been defeated, Southern farmers were essentially bankrupt. They knew the banks would take their land and their farm equipment, relegating them to poverty. But they also knew the banks would take their slaves as well, and probably sell them to Cuba or some other Central or South American country. (Actually, Lincoln had confided in cabinet that this was the plan, and to colonize western Africa - Liberia - with what remained of black freemen, so as to rid North America of all black population. Yes, Lincoln was a racist, but he was a man of his time.) If this had happened, the Northern banks would have made huge profits off the defeat of the South, and all the slaves of the South would have ended up in foreign countries. So when the 13th Amendment was passed by the U.S. Congress, (which proposed to free all slaves and make slavery illegal), the Southern states were the first ones to jump on board and ratify it. In some ways, it was sweet revenge, because what that did was stop the Northern Banks from profiteering from the plight of the defeated South, and it saved their slaves from deportation. Many of these slaves were like family, and this is where the terms "uncle" and "auntie" come from in reference to slaves. Many Southern white children were taught to address their slave farm hands as family. Many of these children developed life long family relationships with their family's slaves. So the thought of bank repossession, liquidation and subsequent deportation to a foreign country was unbearable to them. However, it wasn't long after that the Northern Banks orchestrated their last laugh, backing the passage of the 14th Amendment, which effectively stripped Southerners of their civil rights and paved the way for Northern Banks to move in and take over the South completely, which is exactly what they did, through the carpetbaggers and scalawag politicians, in what is known as "deconstruction" (ahem! I mean "reconstruction").

Sorry about the length of this response, but as I've said, I just barely scratched the surface here. Yes, the Civil War (if we can even call it that) was about money, power, investments, economics and most of all PROFIT!

Joseph said...

I must say, as a Protestant, that this is one of the most fascinating 'Great Lost Cause' defenses I have ever seen. I'd already heard about the Moro bill (although only a minority of even Southern historians try to argue it was the sole cause of the war, most preferring to argue about state's rights as well), and I also knew that the Northern economy was dependent on slavery as well (although the arguments I'd seen all revolve around textiles). However, you did get a couple things wrong.

First, slavery in the Northern states was illegal at the time of the war in all but four states (and had been illegal in New England since before the Revolution): Missouri (incidentally, where Grant was living before the war, and where his wife was from), Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia (once they succeeded from Virginia). In these four states (particularly in Missouri), the war become truly a civil war, with brother fighting brother, and fathers and sons on opposite sides.

Second, ratification of the Thirteenth amendment was required of every Confederate state before they could be re-admitted to the Union (and get out from under military rule), so I wouldn't be too proud of the fact that many Southern states ratified it before those border states did.

Joseph said...

You did get one fact right: for the North, the war was not originally about slavery. To Lincoln (as well as Britain and France), the war was about one thing: can an elected government rule as effectively as a monarch (France's experience up to that point would indicate not)? Had the Confederates won independence, the powers that be in France and England (and probably the rest of Europe, but the English and French were the only ones to offer open support to the Confederacy) would have been free to tell their own peoples exactly what you Catholics keep telling us Protestants: if you get rid of the monarch, the inevitable result is anarchy (it is worth pointing out that the dissolution of the Union would not have ended with the Confederacy. Both California and Utah showed every sign of being ready to succeed as well, if the Confederates were successful).

Although there is a great deal of evidence that Lincoln himself regarded chattel slavery as a reprehensible moral evil, he feared loosing the border states, which he felt he needed to win the war. This is why it took him so long to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, this is why he waited for victories before doing so, and this is why that Proclamation only affected those areas currently in revolt. (It is also why it took so long for those border states to ratify the 13th amendment, incidentally). Once that Proclamation was signed, the moral character of the war changed to a significant extent. It is debatable how much that changed, but, the change was real.

I have never heard your theory about the relationship between Northern banks and Southern slavery. Could you post the texts you are working from? I am something of a student of American history, and it would be interesting to look into, once I have some time.

Regarding Pius IX, I don't know a lot about him. His support for the Confederacy is usually overlooked, most likely because the overwhelming majority of combatants on both sides were Protestant, and thus would have seen such support as irrelevant. However, I might point out that the US was, and continues to be, the strongest Protestant power in the Western hemisphere (the only one, in fact, save for Canada), so it is unsurprising that the reigning Pope would support a movement that would weaken that nation, and possibly even destroy it.

Good work on blaming England for American slavery (it is, after all, where the blame belongs, although England managed to get rid of the institution several decades before the war). In fact, Thomas Jefferson tried to write that into the Declaration of Independence under 'grievances against George III', but the Southern delegates (led by Edward Rutledge of South Carolina) refused to sign the Declaration with that clause included, so it was struck.

joseph said...

You did get one fact right: for the North, the war was not originally about slavery. To Lincoln (as well as Britain and France), the war was about one thing: can an elected government rule as effectively as a monarch (France's experience up to that point would indicate not)? Had the Confederates won independence, the powers that be in France and England (and probably the rest of Europe, but the English and French were the only ones to offer open support to the Confederacy) would have been free to tell their own peoples exactly what you Catholics keep telling us Protestants: if you get rid of the monarch, the inevitable result is anarchy (it is worth pointing out that the dissolution of the Union would not have ended with the Confederacy. Both California and Utah showed every sign of being ready to succeed as well, if the Confederates were successful).

Although there is a great deal of evidence that Lincoln himself regarded chattel slavery as a reprehensible moral evil, he feared loosing the border states, which he felt he needed to win the war. This is why it took him so long to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, this is why he waited for victories before doing so, and this is why that Proclamation only affected those areas currently in revolt. (It is also why it took so long for those border states to ratify the 13th amendment, incidentally). Once that Proclamation was signed, the moral character of the war changed to a significant extent. It is debatable how much that changed, but, the change was real.

I have never heard your theory about the relationship between Northern banks and Southern slavery. Could you post the texts you are working from? I am something of a student of American history, and it would be interesting to look into, once I have some time.

Regarding Pius IX, I don't know a lot about him. His support for the Confederacy is usually overlooked, most likely because the overwhelming majority of combatants on both sides were Protestant, and thus would have seen such support as irrelevant. However, I might point out that the US was, and continues to be, the strongest Protestant power in the Western hemisphere (the only one, in fact, save for Canada), so it is unsurprising that the reigning Pope would support a movement that would weaken that nation, and possibly even destroy it.

Good work on blaming England for American slavery (it is, after all, where the blame belongs, although England managed to get rid of the institution several decades before the war). In fact, Thomas Jefferson tried to write that into the Declaration of Independence under 'grievances against George III', but the Southern delegates (led by Edward Rutledge of South Carolina) refused to sign the Declaration with that clause included, so it was struck.

(not sure if you overlooked the second part of my post, as I had to post it in two sections. Here it is again.)

The Catholic Knight said...

Actually Joseph I believe you are mistaken on the second point. It was the 14th ammendment that the Southern states were required to ratify in order to get out from the military occupation known as Reconstruction.

The 13th amendment was not required and in fact was ratified BEFORE the 14th amendment was imposed on the South the US Congress. For the record, the great State of Mississippi has still not ratified the 13th ammendment. The 14th amendment defined US citizenship and banned all former Confederates from participating in elected government. It also strengthened the federal courts and is largely responsible for many of the woes we suffer today thanks to judicial legislation.

As for the first point, as you said, four US states permitted slavery at the start of the war, so my point stands. The United States was a slave nation, and on top of that New England banks still used slaves as collateral for loans issued in slave states. Thus both the North and the South were slave economies.

Joseph said...

Thanks for the correction on the 14th amendment (typo, sorry). Mississippi still hasn't ratified the 13th? Unsurprising, but disappointing.

You still haven't posted your source for the collateral bit. As I've said, I've never heard that theory before, and I'd like to look into it a bit.

As I said in the second half of my post, while Lincoln (and many Northerner's) did wish to make the war one of abolition, Lincoln did not feel he could pull it off without the border states (which should not be regarded as part of a 'northern' nation at that time. If the war was a 'war between the states', then it was between an alliance of Northern 'nations' and an alliance of Southern 'nations' In truth, Grant had more trouble subduing Missouri than he did subduing Tennessee). It was not until the Union army won solid victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg that Lincoln felt confident trying to shift the focus of the war.

However, it is worth pointing out that Lincoln was willing to yield on slavery (don't know about the Moro tax, but the impression I got was Lincoln was willing to yield on pretty much everything, except for unity) even as late as the siege of Petersburg (where he met with a delegation from the Confederate congress speaking for Davis), if only the Southern states would rejoin the Union. The Confederates refused, but the event does show where exactly Lincoln's priorities were. To him, the war was to 'preserve the Union'.

joseph said...

And I might point out that the fourteenth amendment was even more important than the thirteenth in civil rights, because it defined all persons born in the US, except for native Americans who maintained tribal ties and families of diplomats, as American Citizens. This was huge, and it made the Thirteenth almost irrelevant, because it gave the Negro (at least in theory) the rights of American Citizens. Of course, various states (including some Northern ones) would spend the next hundred years trying to abridge these rights in practice, but they were law.

Anonymous said...

Mississipi did ratify the 13th... in 1995!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Teacher said...

The post on the loan collateral is fascinating - can you point a non-historian to some supporting original documents? THANKS!

cinaed57 said...

Joseph said: "Mississippi still hasn't ratified the 13th? Unsurprising, but disappointing."

You are grossly misinformed and obviously have allowed yourself to be deceived by the scurrilous propaganda directed against the good people of Mississippi!

Mississippi did not ratify the 13th Amendment as a matter of principle for STATES RIGHTS - having enacted an amendment to the Mississippi state constitution prohibiting chattel slavery BEFORE the federal government enacted the version authored by Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania! Thus, a federal amendment was not necessary for Mississippi!

Enacting the 13th Amendment in 1995 was purely a matter of political correctness and CONFORMITY for the sake of appearances!

Unknown said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4193797.stm

I found this link to an article about banks' roles in using slaves as loan collateral. Just search "Slaves as loan collateral" and you'll find all sorts of information.