next


"rich man's War — poor man's fight."

Poverty is certainly not without its disadvantages. It is the lot of the great mass of mankind. The rich, in all countries and in all ages, are a respectable minority. But among its many misfortunes, none is greater than the facility with which, in democratic countries, it can be duped by demagogues to its own utter ruin. At the head of this article we have placed a shallow but mischievous sophism, invented by enemies of the Confederate cause to paralyze the valiant hearts on which it relies for success.--If there are any soldiers of the Confederacy weak enough to be deluded by this transparant but malignant device, we invoke them to listen to a few words of warning.

Granting, for the sake of the argument, that the mass of Confederate armies is composed of poor men, is their condition any worse in this respect than that of all the armies of all the wars that from the beginning of the world have been fought to this day? What interest had the rank and file of England, France, Spain, Germany, in most of the wars that those nations have waged? None on the face of the earth, except to advance the selfish ends of kings and rulers, whom lust of power, or revenge, or, sometimes, the most contemptible personal feuds and jealousies, stimulated to draw the sword? What interest have the Northern soldiers in the war now waged against the South? If ever there was "a rich man's war, a poor man's fight," it is this bloody invasion, carried on for the aggrandizement of Yankee lords of the loom, merchant princes and shoddy contractors, by hard-handed laborers and artisans, who fight and die for a few dollars a month. To the battles of peace, as well as those of war, the same sophism is applicable.--The grand march of civilization is carried on by the poor. They cut down the trees and clear the forests; they cultivate the soil and raise the staples of commerce; they build the ships and man them when built; they toil in the mines, the factories, the workshops; all the splendid cities, the palace-like houses, costly furniture which they contain, are the fruits of their industry. And, amidst all this splendor, they, who created it, live poor, and die, like the silkworm, in the costly winding sheet which they themselves have brought forth. Is it in the power of man to change the order of nature? Shall not we, who are poor, bow with submission to the decrees of Providence, take our position cheerfully in that place in life's battles where. He has stationed us, and patiently await at His hands the final rewards of obedience and fidelity?

But if ever there was a war to which the miserable sophism we have quoted has no application whatever, it is this universal uprising of the South against Yankee invasion. What brought to the field the great mass of the Southern armies — the men who, from Manassas to this hour, have illustrated the Confederate flag with prodigies of valor and endurance? They came voluntarily, poor and rich, to drive from their common soil a common enemy. Whilst the majority of them, like the majority of all armies, are not rich men, more rich men have entered the Confederate ranks than any army of which we have any knowledge. It is true enough, there are some rich men who have never shouldered a musket and never will. But they are mostly those who were poor at the beginning of the war, and have made fortunes since by extortion and speculation. If they could be taken by the nape of the neck and thrust into the front of the battle, it would give universal satisfaction. Many men who were rich before the war have become utterly impoverished, and would consider themselves fortunate now if they could be assured of soldier's fare and soldier's clothing.

And now, suppose the work of subjugation complete, and that institution of slavery, in which we are told none but slaveholders have any interest, abolished, how are the poor to be benefitted? What is the condition of the poor in England, in France, in the North? Is it not an incessant and painful struggle for the bare necessaries of life by the performance of labors which are here performed by slaves? Is it not a rigid exclusion from all social sympathies and considerations, so that the foreigner and Northern employer treats his employee with less indulgence and civility than the Southern master treats his slaves? Here, color is the only real distinction of classes.--No one, whatever his circumstances, is denied the name and the treatment of a gentleman, unless he forfeits it by his own bad conduct. We should like to see the poor man in the North who is called a gentleman, or invited to sit down at the tables of the rich. A Southern slave would scarcely be more astonished at such a compliment. There is not under the canopy of Heaven a land in which the poor are as exempt from physical want, and as free from the rich man's contumely," as in these Southern States. What would be the result of Northern success in this war? The slaveholder, it is true, would be driven off, and in his place would be Yankee landholders, who would, of course, buy up the forfeited estates of the original proprietors, and then the deluded poor man of the South would learn, for the first time, what it is to be poor under a race which never even pretended to have compassion for poor white men. The slaves would disappear and who would take their place? Who would plough the Yankee nabob's farm, who would drive his carriage, who would be his butler, and his dining-room and body servant, who would be his wife's cook, washer-woman and chambermaid, who would black the boots and shoes of the family? The poor of the South, who would have to live, and, in order to live, would be compelled to degrade themselves to the condition of white negroes to Yankee taskmasters.--And again: "It is," as has been justly remarked, "a matter of very great importance to the poor of any country that the value of labor be kept at the highest price possible. It is the constant interest of the laboring man to use every fair and honorable means to keep the price of labor up. In the South, the poor have the co-operation of the rich in estimating the worth of labor, because it is also the interest of the rich that the price of a day, or a week, or a month's work, stands at the highest possible figure. The rich man wants a high estimate placed upon the labor of his servants, and the poor man desires a similar estimate to be fixed for his labor; thus they co- operate to keep up the price of labor, while there is no considerable part of our people who have any reason to wish its worth reduced. With us, all classes conspire for the constant increase of the value of labor — because it is their interest to do so. But remove the institution of African slavery, and will this be true any longer? No, verily; at once it becomes the interest of every rich man to put the price of labor down to the lowest figure. He owns the land, he owns the factories, he holds the property and the money of the country, and he must have his tenants, his laborers and his hired servants. Then the rich conspire to reduce the price of labor in all its departments, and the poor man must work at the prices established for him by the rich; I say must, because he must eat; and if he eat, he must work; and if he work, he must work at the rich man's price, though it be but a penny a day. And the only means of raising the worth of labor is an occasional bread riot — such as so often occurs in the so-called free countries. The institution of slavery constitutes the reason why labor is worth so much more in the South than anywhere else on the globe."

Nor are these the only evils which the poor man of the South has reason to apprehend from Yankee subjugation. The hardships of war are, at present, the great grievance of his condition. --war, one of the most terrible and, at the same time, the most universal and inevitable of the afflictions of fallen man. If they expect to avoid this by submission to Yankee domination, they will discover, when too late, that they have made the most egregious and tragical of human blunders. If the South succeeds, it is probable that, with her present experience, she will carefully avoid war with any and every foreign Power. She has no quarrels to adjust with any nation but the North. Her policy will not be one of territorial aggrandizement, nor such, in any respect, as to bring her into collision with other countries. Her soil is productive of staples essential to the commerce and manufactures of the world, and she will be, besides, one of the most valuable of their customers.--They will, therefore, be no more inclined to quarrel with her than she with them. The only hope of future peace and quiet is in the success of the Confederacy.--The North, on the other hand, already proclaims that, as soon as the rebellion is crushed, she will punish England for the wrongs inflicted upon her in this war, and drive Maximilian from his throne. Her policy is one of territorial aggrandizement. She has determined to have Canada, Mexico and Cuba. And who will be her instruments to accomplish these objects? Who will be her soldiers? Will she go to Ireland then, or to Germany, or rely upon negroes? She does that now rather than draw upon her own precious population. But she would not do it in a future war, when the white soldiers of the South, whom some of her own generals admit to be the best fighting men in the world, could be drafted into the service. The poor men of the South would be forced into the United States armies, and compelled to fight the battles of the North against England, France, Spain; against any and every Power that stood in the way of Northern revenge and cupidity. Their bones would bleach every battle-field from Canada to the tropics, and their wives and children be doomed to endless servitude and starvation. They would then know what that thing means in reality: "a rich man's war — a poor man's fight."

We honestly believe that the welfare and happiness of Southern poor men are as much involved in the success of this struggle as any other class of the community — more so than the rich, who can leave the country and escape brutality and degradation of foreign lands.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
France (France) (3)
Canada (Canada) (2)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (1)
Cuba (Cuba) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Maximilian (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: