Book Review: Ought Yankee Traitors Rule The Nation?

Ought Yankee Traitors Rule The Nation?  by a North Carolina Backwoodsman

This book is only thirteen pages, and my review of it is likely almost as long as the book itself.  Imagine yourself a year after the Civil War, when a disgruntled planter posing as an anonymous North Carolina backwoodsmen protests the loss of civil rights that resulted from what the author refers to as “one mistake,” namely the misguided attempt at secession and then makes a particularly terrible use of the tu quoque [1] defense to accuse Northerners of being treacherous by expressing a politic fondness of Great Britain.  The author is attempting to turn polite diplomacy into treachery on the part of a few Radical Republicans while claiming that secession (there is no admission as to the cause of succession) was the only mistake the South has ever made.  This is like the non-apology apology of an abusive partner looking for reconciliation and a restoration of their full rights and privileges in a relationship without having gone through full confession of sins.  It is a deeply uncomfortable book, and at least it is short enough that it does not go on for hundreds of pages like contemporary efforts.

Nevertheless, this short effort does lay the groundwork for many postwar defenses of the Confederacy and its most important figures.  First, there is the aggressive projection on behalf of the Confederates.  Here the concern is one of treachery.  Later on there would be false accusations of rapine, accusations of socialism that would better apply to the Confederacy.  Second, there is a silent omission of the genuine causes of the Civil War in order to avoid admitting the real causes being related to slavery [2].  Third, there is the goal of reconciliation to better allow the South to go on engaging in oppression of poor and minorities while engaging in divide and rule tactics that also involve a negative social analysis of New Engalnders.  It would be hard to conceive of the strategy of former Confederates and later Neoconfederates in seeking to misdirect people as to the nature of their rebellion while seeking political legitimacy without looking at this early effort, which anticipates many later efforts and marks in many ways a trial balloon for the strategy that resurgent Southern elites would attempt with a great deal of rhetorical and political success, with disastrous effects for the South as a whole.

It requires some commentary, moreover, to look at why this book is framed the way it is.  Here we have a book from a former Confederate that calls at least some Yankees traitors.  It avoids any mention to Abraham Lincoln and his assassination, but names many leading Radical Republicans and accuses them (falsely) as traitors rather than admitting the full scale of their own treason.  The author presents himself as a backwoodsman of North Carolina, a group of people that had a particular reluctance to rebel in the first place, as North Carolina was the last of the eleven states that seceded in 1860-1861.   While it is not clear who the author is, it is quite possible that the author was in fact a Virginia or South Carolina planter that was simply using a false identity to get a better hearing than would be the case under his actual name.  It would be a worthy investigation to see who the author of this little book, more like a pamphlet, actually was.  That said, this is a book nearly entirely unknown, and one that deserves to be known at least a little bit better, as it expresses the raw materials that many later writers would use in order to make a fallacious case for Deep South political legitimacy.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/01/09/on-the-partial-validity-of-the-tu-quoque-argument/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/06/14/out-of-sight-out-of-mind/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/02/25/judging-at-the-checkout-line/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/08/29/book-review-historic-papers-on-the-causes-of-the-civil-war/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/02/book-review-apostles-of-disunion-southern-secession-commissioners-and-the-causes-of-the-civil-war/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/07/book-review-the-myth-of-the-lost-cause/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: Ought Yankee Traitors Rule The Nation?

  1. Pingback: Book Review: As Southern As It Gets | Edge Induced Cohesion

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