The Hartford Convention

(F)rom December 15, 1814 – January 5, 1815, in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, in which the New England Federalist Party met to discuss their grievances concerning the ongoing War of 1812 and the political problems arising from the federal government’s increasing power. Despite radical outcries among Federalists for New England secession and a separate peace with Great Britain, moderates outnumbered them and extreme proposals were not a major focus of the debate.

The convention discussed removing the three-fifths compromise which gave slave states more power in Congress and requiring a two-thirds super majority in Congress for the admission of new states, declarations of war, and laws restricting trade. The Federalists also discussed their grievances with the Louisiana Purchase and the Embargo of 1807. However, weeks after the convention’s end, news of Major General Andrew Jackson’s overwhelming victory in New Orleans swept over the Northeast, discrediting and disgracing the Federalists, resulting in their elimination as a major national political force.

Ah Connecticut, the State that will gladly sell you a lump of wood and call it Nutmeg. Birthplace of Nathan Hale (a spy and not a very good one) and Benedict Arnold (a complicated traitor, a patriot who sacrificed much, was ill used by Congress, and seduced by a skirt). Home of the Cotton Gin which made Slavery profitable and the Colt Revolver which made all men equally dead (if you drive through Hartford today on I-91 you can’t miss the 19th Century factory capped by a minaret, gift of an Ottoman Sultan grateful for his efficient killing machines). Center of the lucrative triangle trade in Rum, Slaves, and Cotton (well, along with New York, Newport, and Boston).

Anyway, it’s not like we don’t have our own kharma which we deal with by not mentioning it much. When I drive down the highway (say, I-91) I rarely see bumper stickers or antenna flags flouting 3 Grape Vines on a Baroque Shield and the motto “Qui Transtulit Sustinet”. Equally absent are Mud Flaps, T-Shirts, and Bandanas emblazoned with the same. In the Land of Steady Habits we still trade our Wage Slaves where God intended.

Privately, on the Golf Course. Ouch, that’s a stroke.

However our subtle discretion, much like our irony, had no impact on our Southern brothers in sin.

South Carolina Declaration of Secession

The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

Selected Statistics on Slavery in the United States

Almost one-third of all Southern families owned slaves. In Mississippi and South Carolina it approached one half. The total number of slave owners was 385,000 (including, in Louisiana, some free Negroes). As for the number of slaves owned by each master, 88% held fewer than twenty, and nearly 50% held fewer than five. (A complete table on slave-owning percentages is given at the bottom of this page.)

For comparison’s sake, let it be noted that in the 1950’s, only 2% of American families owned corporation stocks equal in value to the 1860 value of a single slave. Thus, slave ownership was much more widespread in the South than corporate investment was in 1950’s America.

On a typical plantation (more than 20 slaves) the capital value of the slaves was greater than the capital value of the land and implements.

Slavery was profitable, although a large part of the profit was in the increased value of the slaves themselves. With only 30% of the nation’s (free) population, the South had 60% of the “wealthiest men.” The 1860 per capita wealth in the South was $3,978; in the North it was $2,040.

Cooper Union

(W)hat will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

So we are all clear now, what this is about.

It is about Race Slavery and Economic Power and Bigotry. It is about a statue of a man, Robert Edward Lee, who was a slave owner and a traitor to his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. It is about the Millions of other traitors who raised an Army and attacked and murdered some 360,000 United States soldiers.

There was no “Noble Cause”. It was never about State’s Rights. It was never about leaving them alone to practice their perversions in peace. It was always about them imposing their warped will on the rest of us, on coercing our applause and approval for their cruel exploitation and violent punishments, their rape and torture of human beings.

I think Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant were too easy on them. I would have enslaved the lot, so they could get a taste of how it feels on the receiving end.

Their contemporary successors, not content with 150 years of discrimination and segregation, now say that they too merely wish to be “left alone” to molder among their fetid monuments to Racism and Sedition, but that is not what they really want. They also want to coerce our applause and approval for their ignorant and casual abuse.

I have news for you “Good Ol’ Boys”.

You lost.

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