Saturday, December 10, 2011
Gimme That Red-State Religion
Gimme That Red-State Religion
EXCERPT: "The Southern Era
For 50 of the nation's first 62 years, Southern men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson dominated the executive branch. In keeping with the Scots-Irish penchant for bold leaders, Washington, Jackson and Zachary Taylor were elected thanks to their reputations as war heroes.
Southern presidents were also largely responsible for the country's great expansion: Jefferson with his Louisiana Purchase and James Knox Polk with his Mexican War. But by the 1850s southerners were losing their grip on national power. With waves of immigration, the populations of the northern states had outstripped the southern slave states, and the south lost control of the House. With the admission of California as a free state in 1850, the Senate balance too was lost.
Polk, nicknamed "Young Hickory," was, like his mentor, a Scots-Irish Tennesseean. His mother was the bearer of a family name "that could be traced all the way back to John Knox, the grim founder of Scots Presbyterianism... " Shortly after attaining the presidency in 1845, Polk provoked a war with Mexico for the purpose of obtaining more slave states.
"Polk's plan" was countered by a bill introduced by Pennsylvania Representative David Wilmot barring slavery in those territories. Wilmot's bill was blocked in the southern-dominated Senate. South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun called slavery "a great good," and asserted, "There cannot be a durable republican government without slavery."
Another scheme for an expanded southern empire came to light in 1859, when self-styled Kentucky general George F. Bickley took control of an underground group called the Knights of the Golden Circle. Bickley's plan proposed the acquisition of the remainder of Mexico, along with all of Central America, plus Columbia, Venezuela, Cuba and every island in the Caribbean. This would have resulted in the addition of 25 new slave states and monopolized the world's sugar, tobacco and slave trades. Bickley claimed more than 100,000 members, mostly from Texas.
Bickley's secret society--some say it was founded in 1835 by Calhoun with British backing--may have been the template for the Ku Klux Klan (the Greek word "kuklos," from which "ku klux" is said to be derived, means "circle"). Several Klan leaders were members of the KGC as well as high-level Scottish Rite masons.
The southern slavocracy's plan was to spin off its own country. President Lincoln was determined not to let this occur, and much blood would be shed. Not surprisingly, uneducated men of Scots Irish descent were eager for a fight on both sides.
During Reconstruction, former slave owners and their descendants turned to their Bibles, where they found certainty in the righteousness of their cause--and solace in their new status as martyrs. Even in defeat, their rebellion persisted. For another century, through terror and legal chicanery, lynchings and Jim Crow laws, they prevented blacks from exercising their Constitutional rights."
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives