Krugman the historian

Thomas DiLorenzo demonstrates that Krugman knows even less about American history than he does about Austrian economics:

Krugman said he has always been infatuated by the “symbolism” of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, with “Lee the patrician in his dress uniform,” compared to General Grant, who was “still muddy and disheveled from hard riding.” Krugman is apparently unaware that by the late 1850s, on the eve of the war, Robert E. Lee was in his thirtieth year as an officer in the United States Army, performing mostly as a military engineer. He was hardly a “patrician” or member of a ruling class. Grant, by contrast, was the overseer of an 850-acre slave plantation owned by his wealthy father-in-law. The plantation, located near St. Louis, was known as “White Haven” (which sounds like it could have been named by the KKK) and is today a national park. (On the “White Haven” Web site the National Park Service euphemistically calls Grant the “manager” of the slave plantation rather than the more historically-accurate word “overseer”).

In 1862 Lee freed the slaves that his wife had inherited, in compliance with his father-in-law’s will. Grant’s White Haven slaves were not freed until an 1865 Missouri emancipation law forced Grant and his father-in-law to do so. The fact that Lee changed clothes before formally surrendering did not instantly turn the 36-year army veteran into a “patrician,” contrary to the “all-knowing” Krugman’s assertion.

Krugman goes on to assert that the North’s victory in the war was a victory in “manners” by a region that “excelled at the arts of peace.” Well, not really. What the North “excelled” in was the waging of total war on the civilian population of the South. The Lincoln administration instituted the first federal military conscription law, and then ordered thousands of Northern men to their death in the savage and bloody Napoleonic charges that characterized the war. When tens of thousands of Northern men deserted, the Lincoln administration commenced the public execution of deserters on a daily basis. When New Yorkers rioted in protest of military conscription, Lincoln ordered 15,000 soldiers to the city where they murdered hundreds, and perhaps thousands of draft protesters (See Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots). It also recruited thousands of European mercenaries, many of whom did not even speak English, to arm themselves and march South to supposedly teach the descendants of James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson what it really meant to be an American. Lee Kennett, biographer of General William Tecumseh Sherman, wrote of how many of Lincoln’s recruits were specially suited for pillaging, plundering and raping: “the New York regiments were . . . filled with big city criminals and foreigners fresh from the jails of the Old World” (Lee Kennett, Marching Through Georgia, p. 279).

The North waged war on Southern civilians for four long years, murdering at least 50,000 of them according to historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. It bombed cities like Atlanta for days at a time when they were occupied by no one but civilians, and U.S. Army soldiers looted, ransacked, and raped their way all throughout the South. The “arts of peace” indeed.

As for the war being a victory of “manners,” as Krugman says, consider this: When the women of New Orleans refused to genuflect to U.S. Army troops who were occupying their city and killing their husbands, sons and brothers, General Benjamin “Beast” Butler issued an order that all the women of that city were to henceforth be treated as prostitutes. “As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women . . . of New Orleans,” Butler wrote in his General Order Number 28 on May 15, 1862, “it is ordered that thereafter when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.” Butler’s order was widely construed as a license for rape, and he was condemned by the whole world.

It is remarkable that so many Americans still believe that their Civil War was about anything but the continuation of the Yankee empire. It is perhaps worth noting that were the USA of today to be confronted with the American Civil War, there can be little doubt that it would be bombing the Union in support of the Southern separatists.

However, it appears that Hispanic separatists may ultimately succeed where the Southern ones failed. The South may not rise again, but the Southwest almost certainly will.

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