The Battle of Wilson's Creek
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: At the recommendation of a local friend I decided to attend the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Southwest Missouri. I was a bit hesitant at first for fear that the production might not do honor to the men who courageously gave their lives just a few miles from where I live. I had heard about previous attempted battle reenactments, and they didn't sound too appealing. This time however, it was different, and because it was different, something magical happened here in Southwest Missouri.
|Reenactors dressed in period costume|
|An 1860s blacksmith|
demonstrates his skills
while Union troops train for
battle in the background.
|Beautiful Wilson's Creek|
|The Missouri Battle Flag|
Confederate Christian Colors
subsidiarity" perfectly describes the principle upon which the American War of Independence was fought, and upon which the original Articles of Confederation were founded. The American colonists believed that power rests principally among the people first, and that government should be focused primarily at the local level with "grassroots" organization. Then as one moves further up the chain of government, from the city municipality, to the county, to the state, and so on; the role of each should be progressively less as the higher forms of government take a subsidiary role to the lower forms. The idea here is that higher forms of government only perform those functions that lower forms of local government cannot perform on their own, focusing primarily upon coordinating efforts between local governments rather than usurping them. The problem with King George III is that he was doing the exact opposite, attempting to micromanage the colonies from the top down, and in doing so he (perhaps unwittingly) became a tyrant to these same colonists. Shortly after the American War of Independence, (which was remarkably different from the French Revolution that occurred later), the founding fathers called for a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The idea was to tweak and streamline the Articles of Confederation the states were using as a national constitution at the time. Some of the delegates to this convention had other plans. Shortly after opening the convention, the Articles of Confederation were scrapped, and the delegates began drawing up a whole new Constitution of the United States of America. Two groups emerged in the convention -- the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists pushed for a strong central governing republic. The Anti-Federalists warned that by centralizing federal powers, the republic risked becoming just as much of a tyrant as King George III. As Daniel Bliss of Concord said prior to the American War of Independence: "Better to live under one tyrant a thousand miles away, than a thousand tyrants one mile away." In the end, the warnings of Bliss went unheeded, the Federalists won the day, and the new Constitution was ratified by all independent thirteen states.
In the case of the "War of Southern Independence" what unfolded was the physical consequences of the Anti-Federalists' warnings unheeded. This was the direct cause of the so-called American "Civil War." Contrary to popular folklore, slavery was not the cause of Southern secession, but it was however the hot-button social issue of the day, much in the same way abortion and same-sex marriage are now. Because of the charged political environment at the time, the issue of slavery factored into every corner of political life. Truth be told, the whole United States of America, from North to South, was a "slave economy" at the time. While most Northern states had banned institutionalized slavery by the time of the War, the banks in these states still used slaves as collateral in securing loans to Southern farmers. In other words, if you were a farmer in the South, and you needed a loan, about the only way you could get one was from a Northern bank. Those banks considered Southern land "worthless" because of the intense humidity and disease carrying mosquitoes in the summer months. Therefore a Southern farmer couldn't use his land to secure the loan. The only thing the Northern banks would use as collateral was farm equipment and slaves. So while the farmers in the South used their slaves as farm hands, it was the banks in the North that actually owned them. For if ever the farmer couldn't make his mortgage payments, his slave holdings and farm equipment would be foreclosed, causing the banks to auction them to the highest bidder. Foreclosed slave holdings were usually shipped down the Mississippi River for auction, hence the term "sold down the river." When the Southern states initially seceded, the Northern banks and newspapers were indifferent, that is, until they realized that secession might prohibit banks from foreclosing on mortgages down South. It was at that time the banks pressured the Lincoln administration to retake the Southern states, by force if necessary. It was a classic case of big business influencing government for their own material gain. The rest is history. In the end however, the South had the last laugh, well sort of. After the war, Northern banks began to foreclose on slave holdings in the South because Southerners hadn't paid their mortgages in almost four years! (It was the consequence of war you see.) So as they began to foreclose on Southern slave holdings, as "uncles" and "aunties" were about to be deported to Cuba for auction, the abolitionists in the U.S. Congress put forward the 13th Amendment, which if ratified by the states would free all the slaves in the entire Union and U.S. territories included. So guess which states ratified it first? You guessed it! The Southern states ratified it even before most Northern states! This prevented the Northern banks from robbing Southern families of friends they had known for years and deporting them to another country for auction. Thus the slaves were free, the Northern banks were screwed, and the defeated Confederates got the last laugh -- for a while. That is until the passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave the North the power to forbid all Southern gentlemen from public office and put into effect a military occupation of the South that would last for decades. It was dubiously called "Reconstruction."
Of course the question begs to be asked; why did the Southern States secede in the first place? We could go into a whole host of reasons, much of it related to taxes, particularly the Morrill Tariff of 1861, but in the end what it really came down to ideologically was the principle of subsidiarity. The federal government was imposing taxes that severely hurt the Southern economy, and this was being done without the consent of the Southern states. While the Morrill Tariff itself was not passed until 1861, largely because of the exodus of Southern congressmen from Washington City, the precursors that led up to it were in play for about 20 years prior to the War. Southern congressmen found themselves constantly battling Northern attempts to raise tariffs in such a way that would hurt the South. Of course the issue of slavery became a vindictive excuse for Northern politicians to justify their unfair positions on trade and commerce. The South had had enough, so to speak, and saw in the election of Abraham Lincoln the stooge these Northern politicians needed to finally "stick it to the South" and raise the tariffs. The federal government was becoming an "empire" on par with what King George III did to the original American colonists just a generation prior. Recognizing that the principle of subsidiarity had been lost in Washington City, and evoking "states rights," the Southern states began their secession from the Union, one by one, until thirteen in total comprised the Confederate States of America. Two states, Missouri and Kentucky, were forced into the Confederacy by circumstance, after Union generals attacked them after they originally voted to stay within the Union.
|Pope Pius IX who declared the dogma|
of the Immaculate Conception and
authored the 'Syllabus of Errors'
The exchange between President Jefferson Davis and Pope Pius IX is recorded in "A Memoir of Jefferson Davis" completed (in two volumes) by his wife Varina Davis after his death...
Letter to the Pope from Jefferson Davis
RICHMOND, September 23, 1863.
VERY VENERABLE SOVEREIGN PONTIFF
The letters which you have written to the clergy of New Orleans and New York have been communicated to me, and I have read with emotion the deep grief therein expressed for the ruin and devastation caused by the war which is now being waged by the United States against the States and people which have selected me as their President, and your orders to your clergy to exhort the people to peace and charity. I am deeply sensible of the Christian charity which has impelled you to this reiterated appeal to the clergy. It is for this reason that I feel it my duty to express personally, and in the name of the Confederate States, our gratitude for such sentiments of Christian good feeling and love, and to assure Your Holiness that the people, threatened even on their own hearths with the most cruel oppression and terrible carnage, is desirous now, as it has always been, to see the end of this impious war; that we have ever addressed prayers to Heaven for that issue which Your Holiness now desires; that we desire none of our enemy's possessions, but that we fight merely to resist the devastation of our country and the shedding of our best blood, and to force them to let us live in peace under the protection of our own institutions, and under our laws, which not only insure to every one the enjoyment of his temporal rights, but also the free exercise of his religion. I pray Your Holiness to accept, on the part of myself and the people of the Confederate States, our sincere thanks for your efforts in favor of peace. May the Lord preserve the days of Your Holiness, and keep you under His divine protection.
(Signed) "JEFFERSON DAVIS."
The Pope's Reply
ILLUSTRIOUS AND HONORABLE PRESIDENT, salutation:
We have just received with all suitable welcome the persons sent by you to place in our hands your letter, dated 23d of September last. Not slight was the pleasure we experienced when we learned, from those persons and the letter, with what feelings of joy and gratitude you were animated, illustrious and honorable President, as soon as you were informed of our letters to our venerable brother John, Archbishop of New York, and John, Archbishop of New Orleans, dated the 18th of October of last year, and in which we have with all our strength excited and exhorted those venerable brothers that, in their episcopal piety and solicitude, they should endeavor, with the most ardent zeal, and in our name, to bring about the end of the fatal civil war which has broken out in those countries, in order that the American people may obtain peace and concord, and dwell charitably together. It is particularly agreeable to us to see that you, illustrious and honorable President, and your people, are animated with the same desires of peace and tranquility which we have in our letters inculcated upon our venerable brothers. May it please God at the same time to make the other peoples of America and their rulers, reflecting seriously how terrible is civil war, and what calamities it engenders, listen to the inspirations of a calmer spirit, and adopt resolutely the part of peace. As for us, we shall not cease to offer up the most fervent prayers to God Almighty, that He may pour out upon all the people of America the spirit of peace and charity, and that He will stop the great evils which afflict them. We, at the same time, beseech the God of pity to shed abroad upon you the light of His grace, and attach you to us by a perfect friendship.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, the 3d of December, 1863, of our Pontificate 18.
(Signed) "PIUS IX."
|The Missouri battle flag, featuring the Roman cross,|
identifies General John Bowen's Missouri Brigade, who
fought in this reenactment of the Battle of Champion Hill.
|2009 TEA Party Demonstration in Washington DC|