April 07, 2024

Not Killing Davis

Chester McAteer

"If Abraham Lincoln had lived Mr. Davis would never have been captured. This fact is well known, and is made apparent in the memoirs of Grant, Sherman and others.”

In his book on Lincoln a very significant paragraph is published by Col. A. K. McClure, as follows:

"He [Lincoln] intimated to Sherman very broadly that he desired Jefferson Davis to escape from the country. Sherman in his memoirs repeats a story told by Lincoln to him illustrative of his wish that Davis should escape 'unbeknownst to him,' and, discussing the same subject in the white house in the presence of Gov. Curtin, Col. Forney, several others and myself, he told the same story to illustrate the same point, obviously intending to convey very clearly his wish that the southern leaders should escape from the land and save him the grave complications which must follow their arrest.

Secretary Welles, in an article in the Galaxy, quotes Lincoln as saying on this subject: 'No one need expect he would take any part in hanging or killing these men, even the worst of them. Frighten them out of the country; open the gates; let down the bars, scare them off.... "

The Bouttineau Courant
Bottineau, N. Dak.
July 9, 1898

Tim adds:

Lincoln knew that if Davis were caught he would have to be hanged, and the outrage that would spawn would lead to renewed hostilities. The war would switch from standing armies to guerrilla warfare and would burn on and on for decades.

Robert E. Lee had forbade such tactics near the end and Grant wisely treated Lee's army fairly when he accepted the surrender. Had mass executions been done the South would have turned to terrorism and it wouldn't have stopped.

And the South already had great guerrilla fighters; Quantril, Bloody Bill Anderson, Nathan Beford Forrest, etc. These guys could live off the land and resupply from angry locals. And you had Joe Selby down in Mexico trying to prepare for a renewed push. He could have coordinated with the guerrilla bands. Lee's forces weren't the only troops in the Confederacy. There were plenty who hadn't surrendered and could fight on. I think Lincoln knew this (and so did Grant).

If they started shooting or hanging Confederate leaders it wouldn't take long for the will to resist to return. Look at how long the fighting went on in Northern Ireland if you want a model of how this could have played out.

Booth and his co-conspirators
could well have just been the beginning. You really cannot subjugate a whole country forever, not if the people refuse to forget.

So Lincoln had every reason to offer an olive branch after having destroyed the South. It was like the Mafia protecting your business after firebombing it to make you pay protection, but that certainly is a pragmatic solution. You can only push so far.

The Communists and the Ruling Class in today's America may learn that sooner rather than later. At some point  Americans may turn to guerrilla warfare to resist the octopodal government and it's state-sponsored terrorism against Middle  America.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:03 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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