Category Archive 'Community of Fahion'

17 May 2023

Alas! The Mayflower Didn’t Sink!

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William Howard Russell 1827-1907 was perhaps the first modern war correspondent. He reported for the London Times on the Crimean War and later on the American Civil War.

Most European visitors were enthusiastic admirers of the Confederacy, and in particular of its romantic leadership. Russell was different. He viewed both sides skeptically and with cynicism. Mary Boykin Chestnut, in her famous diaries, occasionally expressed indignation over Russell’s published comments.

In Russell’s Diary for August 1, 1861 in The Civil War in America, he summarized South Carolinians’ uncomplimentary perspective on New England, which goes a good way to explain the motivations for secession.

“If that confounded ship had sunk with those —— Pilgrim Fathers on board,” says one, “we never should have been driven to these extremities!” “We could have got on with fanatics if they had been either Christians or gentlemen,” says another; “for in the first case they would have acted with common charity, and in the second they would have fought when they insulted us; but there are neither Christians nor gentlemen among them!” “Anything on the earth!” exclaims a third, “any form of government, any tyranny or despotism you will; but”—and here is an appeal more terrible than the adjuration of all the Gods—“nothing on earth shall ever induce us to submit to any union with the brutal, bigoted blackguards of the New England States, who neither comprehend nor regard the feelings of gentlemen! Man, woman, and child, we’ll die first.” Imagine these and an infinite variety of similar sentiments uttered by courtly, well-educated men, who set great store on a nice observance of the usages of society, and who are only moved to extreme bitterness and anger when they speak of the North, and you will fail to conceive the intensity of the dislike of the South Carolinians for the Free States. There are national antipathies on our side of the Atlantic which are tolerably strong, and have been unfortunately pertinacious and long-lived. The hatred of the Italian for the Tedesco, of the Greek for the Turk, of the Turk for the Russ, is warm and fierce enough to satisfy the Prince of Darkness, not to speak of a few little pet aversions among the allied Powers and the atoms of composite empires; but they are all mere indifference and neutrality of feeling compared to the animosity evinced by the “gentry” of South Carolina for the “rabble of the North.” Read the rest of this entry »

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