Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Prominent Pinckneys in South Carolina Politics

President Obama gave a nice eulogy to the Rev. and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney on Friday after he laid in state at the South Carolina State Capitol.  He was the first African American to have such an honor after being gunned down by white supremacist Dylann Roof.  While Rev. Pinckney was the first African American to have such an honor he is not the first Pinckney to be prominent in South Carolina politics. 

Two generations before the Civil War and the Confederate Flag, Thomas Pinckney served as Governor of the Palmetto state from 1787 to 1789.  He also served in the Revolution and the War of 1812.  He was appointed by President George Washington (a fellow slave holder) as ambassador to Great  Britain and negotiated Pinckney's treaty with Spain in 1795 which guaranteed navigation rights for the US (for slave trading) and defined the borders of Louisiana and Florida.  In 1796 he lost to Thomas Jefferson (another slave owner) for the Vice Presidency which in those days went to the second place finisher for the Presidency in the electoral college. 
Thomas Pinckney was succeeded as governor of South by his cousin Charles Pinckney who was present at the constitutional convention in 1787.  At the convention he submitted a clause that required that fugitive slaves be returned to their owners.  He served two additional terms as governor one term as senator.  When not in office he was involved in the slave trade. 

Yet another Charles Pinckney was another prominent Pinckney Charles Coatesworth Pinckney.  Like his younger brother Thomas, he was active in the Revolutionary War under George Washington.  He later served with his cousin Charles at the Constitutional Constitutional Convention.  He helped broker the compromise there that ended the slave trade in 1808 and gave the Senate the power to ratify treaties.  He also advocated counting slaves as one person in the Census (while still denying them their freedom).  They ended up counting them as 3/5 or 60% of a person.  President Washington offered him the position of Secretary of War (now Secretary of Defense) but he accepted appointment as ambassador to France where he was part of the XYZ affair where he was offered a bribe by Napoleon's Agents.  The Federalist Party nominated him to run for Vice President in 1800 but he lost to Aaron Burr.  He was nominated for President by the Federalist Party in 1804 but he lost to fellow slave holder Thomas Jefferson.  The Federalists nominated him again for President in 1808 but he lost to another slave owner from Virginia named James Madison.

I don't know if Reverend Pinckney is related to these three aformentioned Pinckneys and there may be no way of knowing.  Sometimes slaves took the surname of their masters.  It's possible that those other three Pinckney's have living African American descendants today just as Thomas Jefferson does. This is their shared heritage whether Dylann Roof wants to admit it or not.  

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Using the Disabled as a Prop for a Larger Racist Global Agenda

Rick Santorum, Glenn Beck and the right made an effort to show that they can still flex their muscle now that the election is over by campaigning against the UN treaty on the Disabled which failed yesterday in the US Senate to make the needed two thirds majority of 67 by 6 votes.  The treaty in the US is mostly symbolic because the Americans with Disabilities Act covers most of this territory but it is significant in much of the world.  This rejection also does not affect the treaty in other countries. 

The greater significance of this action is to still show the same contempt for international cooperation that impedes US 'sovereignty.'  This is a token victory which may be reversed after the new Congress is sworn in in January.  The rhetoric above resembles that of the southern states to protect their sovereignty in the Civil War.  

An Anti-War March in 2005
Another Anti-War Marcher in 2005

The Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq without UN authorization is definitely a more extreme case of the right showing contempt for global democracy than this one.  Remember "freedom fries" replacing French Fries in Congressional Cafeteria?  That one resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and created possibly millions more disabled Americans and Iraqis over weapons of mass destruction that did not exist at the time of the invasion.  Now we're hearing the same rhetoric now over Syria and Iran.  The average Iraqi is a better judge of how democratic their country is now than any pundit on Fox News.

Santorum again uses his youngest child Bella in his arguments against the current treaty just as he did against the health care law while many lower status children and adults with disabilities need these types of protections.  Santorum and Beck even call the UN disabled treaty 'fascistic.'  Doesn't anyone see that this is all really a ploy to subvert real democratic processes among nations?  The scale may differ but the intent is the same.  Many other global issues such as terrorism and climate change require global cooperation just as the states have to cooperate to solve national problems. This contempt for the UN is really thinly veiled racism.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context - Cinco de Mayo edition

Last May 3 I published a post called The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context which discussed how in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War there were similar conflicts in Germany, Italy, and Japan which would have many repercussions for the US and the world to this day.  It has become one of my most read posts.

This May 2 I realize that there was another conflict south of the US border which also had reverberations for many years to come that is having it's 150th anniversary this year.  The conflict began when Mexican President Benito Juarez refused to make debt payments to European nations in the wake of the Mexican American war of 1846-1848.  As a response Emperor Napoleon III of France (Nephew of the first Napoleon husband of Josephine, who came to power in the revolutions of 1848) sent a military force of 8,000 to Veracruz in 1862 to establish an empire in Latin America while the US was busy with the Civil War.  The French army the marched on the state of Puebla a Mexican Army was able to repel them on May 5.  This is what Mexicans celebrate on Cinco de Mayo which is mistakenly thought of as their 4th of July here.

Napoleon III did not give up his dream of empire however and invaded again in 1864 with a force of 30,000, drove Juarez from power and installed his cousin as Maximilian I Emperor of Mexico.  This empire did not last as the US Civil War ended the next year and the US aided Juarez in defeating the French army.  President Andrew Johnson (who succeeded Abraham Lincoln thanks to John Wilkes Booth) would not let this violation of the Monroe Doctrine stand and supported Juarez with weapons.  Napoleon III could not help because of the uprisings in Germany and Italy.  Maximilian I was executed in 1867.  By 1870 Napoleon III and President Johnson would be out of office and France would never have a monarch again.  A period of instability and dictatorship did follow in Mexico which also lead to a period of immigration to the US in the next century,

I considered adding this story to the Civil War post but thought there was enough for it's own post as I, like many other Americans overlooked cultural issues beyond a narrow view.  I wrote the first post to expand viewpoints but realized I needed to expand myself.  Hopefully Cinco de Mayo can be recognized as more than an opportunity to sell tequila and cerveza.

There are efforts in the State of Arizona which has passed a law banning ethnic studies.  The Tucson school district was forced to cancel it's acclaimed Mexican-American ethnic studies program.  Here is a discussion of the controversy on Democracy Now! followed by a follow up on a teacher being fired who refused to follow the policy.
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The 14th Amendment: MVA (Most Versatile Amendment) Award Winner

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War to correct the prior injustices which occurred, three constitutional amendments were ratified: the 13th in 1865 which banned slavery, the 14th in 1868 which I shall discuss later, and the 15th in 1865 which guaranteed the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude" but unfortunately not gender.  That came in 1920 with the 19th amendment.  The 14th amendment is the longest of these amendments and comes in five sections.  It reads:

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment to age 18.

Section 1 contains the equal protection clause and has been the legal foundation for the supreme court ruling banning segregation in the south, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, same sex marriage, and many other civil rights laws.  It also contains birthright citizenship which many immigrants value.  Sections 2 and 3 are meant to prevent future secession by the states.  Stephen Colbert has a humorous discussion of how North Dakota might not meet Section 3.

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Section 4 relates to the validity of public debt for the payment of pensions.  In the debt ceiling debate the Congressional Black Caucus, The Progressive Caucus, and Senator Bernie Sanders Called on President Obama to use this to bypass congress.  He declined.  Others state that the Supreme may have to get involved.

Before the 2010 election there was talk of amending first section of the 14th amendment to take away the birthright citizenship to those born to illegal immigrants. This is a good discussion of the implications of such a change.  Hopefully such talk has ended.

I called the 14th amendment the most versatile because it can be applied to everything from citizenship to public debt to civil rights.  Other amendments may be more sacred such as the first for civil rights, the second for gun lovers, or the fifth for criminals but they are for more specific things.  Health care reform is being challenged for it's constitutionality which the Supreme Court will have to resolve.  Detractors claim that the individual mandate violates individual rights.  Advocates claim that Article III gives Congress the responsibility to provide for the general welfare of the US population.  I'll bet the 14th may be used to resolve this dispute.


Rep. Donna Edwards D-MD talks about the deficit deal and invoking the 14th amendment as Standard and Poor's downgraded the US's credit rating for the first time.  This interview was before the downgrade.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

This year much has been made of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War.  Between the years 1861 and 1865 the United States of America changed, at the expense of over 600,000 lives or 2% of the population, from a loosely confederated grouping of agricultural states (eleven of which were agrarian slave holding states) to a united nation without slavery but with industrialization with social benefits and ills that would later have to be remedied.  These things are important to remember but it is important to consider similar world events going on at the same time which also had profound implications for the US and the rest of the world.

At the same time that Abraham Lincoln's administration was working to unite the United States: Otto von Bismarck was campaigning to turn Germany from a collection of confederated principalities into the first united German nation; Japan was conducting the Meiji Restoration which ended the rule of the Shoguns and the era of the Samurai; and Italy was experiencing the Risorgimento which united the peninsula for the first time since the Roman Empire.

After having been occupied by Napoleon, who removed many medieval laws, the seeds of nationalism were planted throughout Europe.  Revolutions occurred against multinational monarchies in 1848 in throughout Europe.  Many disillusioned with these uprisings emmigrated to the United States and fought in the US Civil War (one out of five union soldiers was an immigrant).  Bismarck was minister-president of Prussia who through war and diplomacy was able to unite the principalities from 1862 to 1871 and then became the first Chancellor or Prime Minister of the united Germany until 1890.  Known as the "Iron Chancellor he made the famous quote "Laws are like sausages.  It's best not to see how both are made." a quote which modern sausage makers find very offensive.  Unlike Hitler he knew not to push his luck and he created a universal healthcare system which they still have today.  There was a period of German immigration to the US throughout the 19th century which continued after unification.


Similar to it's neighbor China, Japan had practiced centuries of isolation.  The Emperor had been a figurehead leader and the Shogun and Samurai had the real political power.  That began to end in 1853 when the United States signed a treaty opening trade and other nations soon followed suit.  To prevent the colonial domination that they saw occurring in China, the Emperor Meiji and a group of industrial oligarchs worked to seize power and westernize the country.  This was called the Meiji restoration which led to a period of rapid industrialization and colonization of Korea and Northern China afterward.  A period of Japanese immigration to the Western US began after this period.


Giuseppe Garibaldi
After the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 AD Italy fell influence of under wave after wave of foreign invaders including the Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Austrians, Spanish and finally the French under Napoleon.  Like Germany, Napoleon had planted the seeds of unification when he had ruled there.  The northern states were dominated by Austria and France.  The center of the country was ruled by the Pope.  The south of Italy was called the Mezzogiorno (or mid day) and was ruled by a branch of the Bourbon family of mixed French and Spanish ancestry and was the poorest region of the country.  Each region had different dialects of Italian which were hardly understood by the other regions.

There were unsuccessful rebellions to reunify the country in 1830 and 1848 which were crushed by Austria, and France. In 1860 the State of Piedmont-Sardinia (Piemonte-Sardegna in Italian) created an invasion force led by Giuseppe Garibaldi which attacked Sicily first which was furthest from the influence of the large imperial powers in Europe and then moved northward.  His force found many willing volunteers to fight against the corrupt Bourbon regime in the south.  This is exactly what John Brown hoped would happen in his raid on Harper's Ferry Virginia in 1858.  The Risorgimento as the Italians call it had begun.

The campaign ran into more resistance as it moved northward.  The Papal States, France, and Austria had organized to prevent reunification but they had to contend with German reunification at the same time and France's leader Napoleon III was incompetent.  By 1861 Pope Pius IX became a prisoner of the Vatican City and refused to recognize the Italian state until Mussolini signed a treaty with him in the 1920's.  Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis wrote letters to Pius hoping to win his sympathies.  Today Garibaldi is as much of a hero to the Italians as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are to the Americans.


These movements were all successful in creating united nations but still the process of rebuilding continued.  Although Germany had many great achievements in art, science is was still not given 'in crowd' status.  Fifty years later Germany entered World War I hoping to gain greater respectability and almost won but was punished severely afterward in the Treaty of Versailles.  Japan successfully fought Russia in 1905 and became the dominant power in Asia which later put it on a collision course with the US over control of a Pacific empire.

Italy experienced a period of uprising as high expectations by poor peasants were dashed after reunification.  Booker T. Washington traveled in Southern Italy and remarked that living conditions for the poor there were similar to that of southern sharecroppers in the US.  Garibaldi died in 1881 and was not a political leader.  After rebelling the great period of Italian immigration began to the United States (which included my grandparents), Australia, and the rest of North and South America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  A similar migration of African Americans within the US began as Jim Crow laws were passed in the south separating the races. 

Of course 80 years after the these wars of unification, all four nations were major players in World War II and afterward were given major nation status.  Now the other minor players in that war are clamoring for more recognition...


On C-SPAN's After Words there is a good discussion of Great Britain's role in the US Civil War between Amanda Foreman who wrote A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War with Historian Eric Foner.  I cannot embed the clip here but it can be heard at this link or seen here.

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