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Is the ‘Eclectic history of the United States,’ written by Miss Thalheimer, and published by Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co., Cincinnatti, a fit book to be used in our schools?

A Review by J. Wm. Jones.

Paper no. 2.

We were noticing in our last the tone and general spirit of this book, and will now add several examples to those then given:

II. Designating the Northern States (page 308) as ‘the loyal States’—stating (page 309) that more than two-thirds of the States ratified the amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery, and on page 324 that all of the States adopted the Fourteenth Amendment, annulled their ordinances of secession, and repudiated the Confederate war-debts without giving the slightest intimation that the Southern States acted in this matter as much under ‘duress’ as the traveller who yields to the highwayman's demand, ‘your money or your life,’ the statement (page 313) that Mr. Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, ‘fairly stated the positions of the two parties in the civil war,’ and the statement on page 330, that the South was restored in the early part of 1870 ‘to all of her abandoned rights’ —these and other similar statements are specimens of the partisan animus which runs through the whole book, and renders it utterly unfit for use in Southern schools. [422]

12. I quote in full two paragraphs on page 316 and three paragraphs on page 318, in order that those who have not access to this book may see for themselves what our children are taught by this History of the ‘Results of the Civil War:’

574. The war once over, all reasonable men were ready to join in repairing its wastes and forgetting its enmities. Doubtless there were selfish Northern adventurers, who cared only to make their own fortunes out of the poverty of the exhausted South and the ignorance of the freedmen; while there were disappointed politicians, who, having failed to destroy the Government, used every opportunity to obstruct its action. Both these classes presented obstacles to the thorough restoration of peace, but their influence could not be lasting.

575 The strength and the clemency of the great Republic were equally proved by the circumstances attending the close of the war. The hopes of its enemies were disappointed. It had been said that the peaceful, industrious pursuits of the majority of the people had unfitted them for war; and that, used as they were to personal independence, they would never submit to the needful discipline of the army. But it was found that men will fight most cheerfully and bravely for a government that represents their will and promotes their prosperity, and that happy home-life, so far from destroying courage, is a strong incentive to it.

581. If we ask what was gained by all this suffering and expenditure of life and treasure, we find that the South, before the war was over, gave up the two principles for which it was ostensibly made. The right of secession was indeed a principle which no government could admit, and, notwithstanding its assertion of State sovereignty, the Confederacy was from the very beginning more strongly centralized than the Union had ever been. Its leaders found, just as their fathers had found in Revolutionary times (§ 234), that a rope of sand is not strong enough to bear the strain of war. One flag, one uniform, were seen all through the South, and one will at Richmond controlled all movements.

582. Abandonment of slavery.—The other principle was far more reluctantly abandoned; but before Lee's surrender the Confederate Government, like that of the Union two years before, had come to the resolution to arm the negroes, and thus in the end to set them free. The two purposes of the war being thus given up, it might [423] seem that the conflict itself should have ceased; and so it would, at an earlier date, if the people had been as well informed as its government.

583. No one can hear without the warmest admiration of the sacrifices and sufferings of the Southern people. Cut off from their usual means of communication with the outer world, they were deluded by false rumors of success and false reports of the character of their opponents. Naturally, bitter prejudices prevailed, and it was long before the people found that their Northern fellow-countrymen were human like themselves, and that the real interests of all were the same. Before the end of the war, every man between the ages of seventeen and fifty-five had been called to the ranks; property everywhere was seized by the Confederate Government at its own prices. Many thousand soldiers deserted within a few weeks, not from cowardice, for no men were ever braver, but because their families were starving.

Now, surely comment on these paragraphs is unnecessary. To teach that the ‘selfish Northern adventurers,’ who came South to fatten on and rob our helpless people; that the ‘carpet-baggers’ of ‘Reconstruction’ days were only as guilty as ‘disappointed politicians who, having failed to destroy the Government, used every opportunity to obstruct its action’—that the government showed great ‘clemency’ in its dealings with the South—that ‘the South, before the war was over, gave up the two principles for which it was ostensibly made’ —that ‘the Confederacy was, from the very beginning, more strongly centralized than the Union had ever been—’and that our Confederate people were a set of miserable ignoramuses, ‘deluded by false rumors of success and false reports of the character of their opponents,’ and thus kept by designing leaders from abandoning the contest long before they did—I say to teach our children such stuff as this is one of the baldest outrages upon the truth of history which even this author has ever attempted.

13. The account of the work of the ‘Sanitary Commissions,’ and the ‘Christian Commission,’ of the North (page 319), and the utter ignoring of the self-sacrificing labors, of similar organizations in the Confederacy, the paragraph on education (page 351) in which a number of Northern colleges and universities are mentioned, and not one located in a Southern State, and the catalogue of American authors (page 352), which does not mention a single Southern name, may all have been the result, not of designed misrepresentation, but of ignorance on the part of the author, but I insist that one [424] so profoundly ignorant of Southern institutions is utterly incompetent to write ‘History’ for our schools.

14. Passing over many other illustrations of the tone and spirit of this book, before citing some of its more glaring errors of detail, I call attention to the fact that the book has a general habit of sluring over and dwarfing Confederate victories, or of seeking to explain them away, while it magnifies and exalts the successes of the North.

E. G.—It is amazing how any fair-minded man can consider the dwarfing of Jackson's Valley campaign into a‘brilliant dash’ (p. 291) ‘up the Shenandoah Valley,’ and the addition of some ‘glittering generalities’ in the note (p. 303), which the teacher may or may not require the pupil to study, a fair statement of one of the most brilliant campaigns in all history. McDowell, from whence Jackson electrified the Confederacy with his famous dispatch: ‘God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday’—Front Royal, where the two Maryland regiments (Federal and Confederate) had their bloody fight and Jackson flanked Banks—Winchester, where the Federals were driven pell-mell through the streets and Banks won the soubriquet of ‘Stonewall Jackson's Quartermaster’ —the fighting near Harrisonburg, where Ashby captured Sir Percy Wyndham, and soon after, in a fight with the ‘Bucktails,’ yielded up his own chivalric spirit in the hour of victory-Cross-Keys, where Ewell whipped Fremont—and Port Republic, where Jackson whipped Shields and sent them both whirling down the Valley to fortify at Strasburg against an expected attack from him at the very hour that ‘Stonewall’ was thundering on McClellan's flank at Richmond—these names and the glorious deeds of ‘the Foot Cavalry’ (who in this campaign of thirty-two days had marched nearly four hundred miles, skirmishing almost daily, fought five battles, defeated three armies, two of which were completely routed, captured about twenty pieces of artillery, some 4,000 prisoners, and immense stores of all kinds, and had done all this with a loss of less than one thousand men, killed, wounded and missing,) should be made familiar to the children of the South. But they would never learn them from this book, and it should never be used in our schools.

I insist that the account of Seven Pines and Seven Days battles, which the author compresses into eleven lines at the bottom of page 291, is utterly unfair. General J. E. Johnston (see his Narrative, page 133) claims that he won a decided ‘victory’ at Seven Pines, and that his being wounded at the close of the battle only prevented the full fruition of the results contemplated.

As for General Lee's raising ‘immense numbers of recruits’ between [425] ‘Seven Pines’ and ‘Seven Days,’ the exact truth is that he received from all sources, including Jackson, (see papers of General Early and Colonel Charles Marshall, Southern Historical so-Ciety papers, volume I, pages 408-424) only 23,000 reinforcements—that McClellan was also reinforced—that General Lee numbered, when Seven Days opened, a little less than 80, 000 men (78,000), and McClellan, 105,000 in position, and 10,000 at Fortress Monroe, and he did as much to ‘strengthen his defences’ as did Lee—and that instead of simply ‘severing McClellan from his supplies,’ Lee attacked him in works as strong as engineering skill and ample mechanical appliances could make them, and that at Mechanicsville, Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Savage Station, Frazier's Farm, and Malvern Hill, (names our children ought to learn, but would never hear of from this book) Lee gained splendid victories and forced McClellen to cower under the shelter of his gunboats at Harrison's Landing.

These brilliant exploits resulted in the capture of many thousand prisoners, thousands of small arms,; and fifty-one pieces of artillery, and in the raising of the siege of Richmond and the speedy transfer of the seat of the war north of the Potomac. And yet this book devotes to these splendid achievements of Lee and his brave men just eight lines, while it gives fourteen lines to the Baltimore riot, twenty-three lines to falsifying the facts about First Manassas, twenty lines of misrepresentation to the ‘Trent affair,’ twenty lines to Fort Donelson, eleven lines to Murfreesboro, twenty-four lines to the capture of New Orleans, forty lines to misrepresenting the truth about the Merimac and Monitor, and only six lines and a half to Jackson's Valley campaign, only nine lines to the Second Manassas campaign, twenty-two lines to the Maryland campaign, only six lines to Fredericksburg, thirty-three lines to falsifying the facts about the Emancipation Proclamation, only thirteen (really only two) lines to Chancellorsville, twenty lines to Gettysburg, thirty-two lines to the capture of Vicksburg, four lines to the splendid Confederate victory at Chickamauga, and forty-five lines to telling of Grant's ‘masterpiece of strategy,’ and Hooker, Sherman and Sheridan's splendid expoits near Chattanooga.

I have not space to follow out further now these illustrations of the utterly unfair tone and spirit of the book. In other papers I propose to examine in detail some of its false statements, omissions and misrepresentations, and to bring cumulative proof that the book is so utterly unfit to be used in our schools that it is a great outrage for [426] school boards (from whatever motives) to introduce it into our schools—that teachers should protest against it until their protest is heard—and parents should absolutely refuse to allow their children to study that part of it pertaining to the war.

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