Tag Archives: South Carolina

DID A DYING PRINCE ALBERT SAVE A DYING UNITED STATES?

Our Man in Charleston

I’m currently reading a new non-fiction book that may interest some of you.   It tells the story of the British Consul in Charleston, South Carolina, in the years leading up to and into the US Civil War (1861 to 1865).

When southern states seceded from the United States, the hope across the Confederacy was that they would receive support from the British government.   Britain was the greatest power in the world at the time and had the most powerful military.   They had a great deal of support in the British press.   British commercial interests strongly suggested the United Kingdom would support the South – the UK was the biggest importer of southern cotton, which was needed to feed the clothing factories in the North of England.

The British government’s Consul in Charleston was Robert Bunch, who lived in the city with his wife and children.   His instructions were to ingratiate himself with prominent citizens and report to London.   His reports to the British government, via the Ambassador in Washington, Lord Lyons, were highly influential in determining Britain’s attitude toward the breakaway republic.

Great Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807, the first major power to do so.   With the world’s most powerful navy, the British took it upon themselves to stop vessels on the high seas and free any slaves they found.   The US followed one year later, but American vessels continued to transport slaves from West Africa, where African leaders continued the practice.   These slave ships transported people in the most horrible conditions, many dying en route.   The Royal Navy’s ships were kept busy along the West African coast throughout the nineteenth century.

Bunch was repulsed by slavery and by those who kept slaves. But he hid his feelings extremely well, as he mixed with leading Charlestonians in the 1850’s.   The people around him thought that he sympathized with them and their “peculiar custom” of slavery and would support the South when it broke away from the North.   But he was, in fact, sending back to London reports on the brutality of slavery, reports that made it impossible for London to show any support for the Confederacy.

He did his job so well that the US Secretary of State, William Seward, pressured the British government to remove Bunch from Charleston as he was a “known” secessionist!

In late 1861, there was a major crisis between Washington and London that almost brought the two countries to war.   If that had happened, the UK would likely have recognized the South and the Confederacy would still exist.

The crisis was triggered when an American navy steamer, the USS San Jacinto, under Captain Charles Wilkes, boarded a British mail ship, the Trent, and arrested two prominent Southerners who were on their way to London to appeal for recognition and help.   The British protested volubly.   The British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, wrote a seriously threatening note, which would have placed Abraham Lincoln’s Administration in a difficult position and would almost certainly have led to another war between the two great English speaking nations.

Then something interesting happened.

“Before the ultimatum could be sent, however, it had to be read and approved by the palace.   On other occasions this might have been largely a formality, and, indeed, in this case Queen Victoria had other priorities.   She was giving a dinner party and did not want it interrupted.   But Prince Albert, her beloved consort, begged off from the dinner, saying he felt ill.   Feverish with the first symptoms of the typhoid that would kill him a few days later, Albert sat down at his desk to look at the ultimatum, and he did not like what he saw. Palmerston and Russell (British Foreign Minister) were giving Lincoln and Seward no way out. They would have to bend to Britain’s will, release Slidell and Mason (the two Southern gentlemen), and apologize abjectly or face the greatest military power on earth.

“For twenty years Albert had made the fight against slavery, and especially the slave trade, one of his important causes.   He did not want to see the Crown tarnished by a war that might guarantee the continuation of slavery for generations to come.   He deeply mistrusted Palmerston’s bellicosity and thought of Russell as something of a lightweight.   He wanted the brashness in the official note to be softened:   “Her Majesty’s Government are unwilling to believe that the United States Government intended wantonly to put an insult upon this country…..”   The new wording left a way open for Seward to explain the incident as an accident, if only he would take it.”   (“Our Man in Charleston”, by Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey, pages 297-8, Crown Publishers.)

“The language offered by Prince Albert had left room for a face-saving response in Seward’s reply:   Charles Wilkes had not been acting under orders.   Three days after Christmas the correspondence of Seward and the British and French foreign ministers was published, announcing the release of the Confederate emissaries.”

War between the US and Britain had been averted, thanks to a German prince’s careful editing of a diplomatic note, written in English!   If the more strident note had resulted in war between Britain and America, London would have supported the Confederacy and the United States would have been permanently divided.   If Prince Albert had not been seriously ill, the outcome of the Civil War could have been very different.

The book is an interesting read and gives some fresh insight into the Civil War.

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COMMENDATION

Charleston
David Goldman/AP

What an outstanding example of love and forgiveness we have seen in Charleston following the deaths of nine black church members, when a deranged 21-year-old white male killed nine of them at a weekly Bible Study.

Jesus Christ said:  “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35).   Love is what sets us apart.

In Matthew 5:44 He told them: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”   This was a truly revolutionary verse, especially at a time when the Romans ruled over them.

When the Apostle Peter asked how often we should forgive those who sin against us, note Christ’s response:

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)  In other words, there is no limit to forgiveness.

All people professing to follow Jesus Christ will recognize these passages of scripture, but how many people actually put them into practice? Love and forgiveness are often sadly lacking in Christians and Christian churches.

Members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, must be commended for the way they handled this tragedy in their midst.   Their attitude of love and forgiveness deserves to be noted and remembered in the years to come.

FEAR BEHIND CHURCH ATTACK

Photo: EPA ; AP
Photo: EPA ; AP

The killing of nine people in a Charleston church last week and the election result in Denmark seemingly have little in common.   But at the root of both is fear.

The 21-year-old white male who shot dead nine African-Americans wore two badges on his jacket.   They were the Rhodesian flag and the South African flag of the old apartheid regime.   TV reporters were quick to say these flags represented racism and that Dylaan Roof identified with these countries because he, too, is racist.

As usual, there was very little depth shown by reporters.   It’s just not as simple as they made it out to be.

Rhodesia and South Africa were the last two nations on the African continent to be ruled by whites, people of European descent who had colonized Africa in previous generations.   During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the European powers were rapidly dismantling their colonial empires.   The ruling whites of Southern Rhodesia, rather than have black majority rule forced upon them, declared themselves independent of Great Britain, something that had not happened since 1776.

Why did they do this?   Out of fear, fear of what would happen if the whites handed over to the majority African population.

This fear was not unfounded.   They had seen what happened when countries to the north of them got independence.

Tribalism, violent upheavals and economic collapse were quite normal in the years following independence.   In 1961, the whites of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), at the time in a federation with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, had been instrumental in saving thousands of people from the Congo who had fled the country after Belgium pulled out.   Chaos and confusion were commonplace in Africa at the time. The whites at the southern end of the continent did not want the same fate to befall them.

In neighboring South Africa, apartheid also had fear at its root.   The white minority imposed segregation to protect themselves from violent crime, murder, and rapes, all of which have increased dramatically since the end of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule.   There was a great deal wrong with apartheid, but post-apartheid South Africa also has serious problems with little hope for improvement.

Which brings us to last week’s Danish election.

Scandinavia has been the last bastion of social democracy, with widely admired societies that have inspired leftist parties around the world.

But these days, social democracy in Nordic countries is in crisis.   The defeat of Denmark’s ruling social democrat party, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, means that for the first time in seventy years, Sweden is the only Scandinavian country with a social democrat government in power.   Even there, it’s doubtful it will survive long.

Their decline has been accompanied by a surge in support for anti-immigration, eurosceptic parties.   “Should the Danish People’s party — which came second, nearly doubling its support from the previous vote in 2011 — join a centre-right government, three of the four large Nordic countries would have such a group in power (Finland and Norway being the others),” the Financial Times reports on its website.   After decades of rule by parties of the left, this is a dramatic change.

“There is a familiar progression in the way that the DPP, True Finns, Sweden Democrats and Norway’s Progress party have hollowed out the establishment parties.   As with the DPP, they have started by stealing voters from the centre-left — the working class, the elderly — before taking them from the centre-right.

“It’s a worry and it’s a wake-up call,” says Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister.”   (ft.com)

What’s behind the swing to the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic parties? Fear.   The same fear that motivated the whites of Rhodesia and South Africa.   And the same fear that was behind the church shooting in Charleston.   This is not to suggest that the Danes, the Rhodesians or the South Africans would have been in agreement with Dylaan Roof’s actions.   It is simply that there is a commonality here – and that common denominator is fear.

The Danes are afraid of being overwhelmed by people of different cultures, especially Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East.   A significant percentage of people in every European country share the same fear.   They do not want to see their way of life threatened. These fears are not taken seriously by mainstream political parties, so voters are looking elsewhere.

The same fear led to Rhodesians breaking away from Britain.   Their “rebellion” lasted fourteen years, seven of which were spent at war with homegrown terrorists who wanted to take over the country. When the terrorists took over, white fears were realized when their land, jobs and money were all taken by the post-independence government of Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for over 35 years.

In South Africa, twenty years after apartheid, the country’s biggest problems are corruption, violence and life-threatening crime.   The affluent society the whites created is under increasing threat, driven by African demands for more and more at the expense of the white taxpayer.

In America, too, many whites fear for the future as they head rapidly toward minority status.   A recent announcement by the Obama Administration that instructs government agencies to enforce greater “diversity” in affluent neighborhoods will only make matters worse.

I’m writing this while we are headed back to our home on a train.   We had to change trains in Chicago.   While lining up for the second train, a young white lady next to me complained to her friends that “the Mexicans are pushing in ahead of us.”   A minor incident like this can trigger off a racial confrontation.   This time it was avoided.

The mad, multicultural mayhem created by the ruling intellectual elites is increasingly being found wanting throughout the western world.

We should expect more incidents like the one in Charleston and more election results similar to Denmark.   It could be the start of a white backlash against enforced multiculturalism.   Politicians should take note on both sides of the Atlantic.

A century ago, the world was dominated by Europeans and people of European descent.   Since World War II this has changed dramatically.   Today, only a handful of countries are still run by Caucasians; and, based on demographic trends, all of those will have a majority non-white population within the lifetimes of those now living.

When the dominant culture of a country changes, great upheaval can take place.   Rhodesia is the best most recent example of this.

Dylaan Roof, at 21, was not even born when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.   He may have worn the Rhodesian flag but was ignorant of Rhodesia’s realities.   Race relations were generally quite good in Rhodesia.   The “white” army was 82% black.  If Dylaan Roof had shot nine black Africans in Rhodesia, he would have been tried, sentenced and hanged within a few months.   I remember clearly a young white male who killed a black cab driver and was hanged, if I remember correctly, within 90 days of his sentencing.

The world’s media may have judged Rhodesia a racist society.   In the same way, it now judges South Carolina as seriously wanting in this regard.   But there has been an outpouring of love and support from different ethnic groups since the mass shooting in church.   The Governor of the state, Nikki Haley, has called for the old confederate flag to be taken down from the Capitol building in Columbia, the state capital.

Just as the world’s media stirred up feelings against Rhodesia and South Africa, it will do so against South Carolina.

Watching CNN on Monday morning, I was shocked at how much time was devoted to a one-sided discussion on the future of the “Stars and Bars,” the old Confederate flag.

What Dylaan Roof did was inexcusable and should be roundly condemned.   But he was just one man and a young man, at that.   His actions will not inspire the majority to replicate his act.   But the fears he expressed about the direction America is headed should be openly discussed.   The flag is not the issue.