Alien Southerners

Has it occurred to many that the same people who have major reservations about the Confederate Monuments generally favor amnesty for undocumented aliens? Sure, that might seem like an inconsistency but the nooks and crannies of citizenship for aliens have more square inches than a container of Thomas’ English muffins.

Consider, for instance, the recent statement by the American Historical Association, the (trigger warning) Cadillac historical professional bodies:

Decisions to remove memorials to Confederate generals and officials who have no other major historical accomplishment does not necessarily create a slippery slope towards removing the nation’s founders, former presidents, or other historical figures whose flaws have received substantial publicity in recent years. George Washington owned enslaved people, but the Washington Monument exists because of his contributions to the building of a nation. There is no logical equivalence between the builders and protectors of a nation—however imperfect—and the men who sought to sunder that nation in the name of slavery.

Thing is, historians do not have the power to determine who is an American citizen. After the Civil War, President Johnson and Congress had to walk a very delicate line between preventing rebels to resume power of state governments while also honoring that the southern states had never seceded and so their governments were still legitimate. Here‘s one angle of the tight rope, namely that President Lincoln advised leniency (more than the AHA):

Lincoln desired to hasten the end of hostilities and quickly reestablish the fraternity of the parted Union. After asking Lincoln what to do with the defeated rebel armies in March 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman remarked that, “all [Lincoln] wanted of us was to defeat the opposing armies, and to get the men composing the Confederate armies back to their homes at work on their farms and in their shops.” Additionally, the Secretary of the Navy remarked after Lincoln’s last cabinet meeting that Lincoln “was particularly desirous to avoid . . . any vindictiveness of punishment.” Other members of Lincoln’s party were not so forgiving. Many felt that Lincoln’s policies and desires were too soft and wished to punish former Confederates more harshly. They feared that former Confederates, returned to power, would not accept the fruits of Union victory, namely emancipation, and would harass black and white former Unionists in the South. To this extent, The New York Herald on April 16, 1865, estimated that Andrew Johnson’s policy towards former Confederates would be “more tinctured with the inflexible justice of Andrew Jackson than with the prevailing tenderness of Abraham Lincoln.”

Here’s how amnesty worked:

It was under these proclamations that, from May 1865 to December 1868, former Confederates flooded the office of Andrew Johnson with thousands of amnesty requests, with the numbers eventually tapering off as the exemptions narrowed. Each request for amnesty included a signed copy of the oath certifying the individual’s compliance, as well as a personally-written request and a third party endorsement, generally by the governor of that person’s state. The personally written requests generally followed the same sequence: the individual introduced himself and his place of residence and often proclaimed his age. He then described his actions (and/or sentiments) before secession, his conduct during the war, the clause under which he was exempted, and whether or not he had any property confiscated from him. The petitions ranged from brief requests for amnesty to “long and well-prepared defenses” of their conduct.

Petitioners were “anxious” to have their amnesty requests granted and their rights and privileges as citizens of the United States resumed. Their exemption from amnesty precluded them from such activities as the “transfer of titles or properties” and the obtainment of copyrights and patents, making business very difficult. Some were even tentative to marry. Until these individuals were pardoned, they lacked civil rights and faced the prospect of having their property confiscated. Above all, they lacked political rights, and thus could not take part in the discourse involving Reconstruction, and were unable to participate in the future of the South. Thus, asking for pardon was the “sensible thing for these people to do.”

Imagine that. Wanting a working society rather than attitudinal purity.

Finally, President Johnson declared “unconditionally, and without reservation, … a full pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws …”

That pardon went to everyone but Robert E. Lee. He did not receive his executive pardon until Michigan’s own, President Ford:

Lee sent an application to Grant and wrote to President Johnson on June 13, 1865:

“Being excluded from the provisions of amnesty & pardon contained in the proclamation of the 29th Ulto; I hereby apply for the benefits, & full restoration of all rights & privileges extended to those included in its terms. I graduated at the Mil. Academy at West Point in June 1829. Resigned from the U.S. Army April ’61. Was a General in the Confederate Army, & included in the surrender of the Army of N. Va. 9 April ’65.”

On October 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson’s proclamation. But Lee was not pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. And the fact that he had submitted an amnesty oath at all was soon lost to history.

More than a hundred years later, in 1970, an archivist at the National Archives discovered Lee’s Amnesty Oath among State Department records (reported in Prologue, Winter 1970). Apparently Secretary of State William H. Seward had given Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir, and the State Department had pigeonholed the oath.

In 1975, Lee’s full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored by a joint congressional resolution effective June 13, 1865.

At the August 5, 1975, signing ceremony, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged the discovery of Lee’s Oath of Allegiance in the National Archives and remarked: “General Lee’s character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride.”

When will the social justice warriors be heading for Grand Rapids to show their rectitude on the facade of the Ford Presidential Library? If they go, they’ll find good beer.

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17 thoughts on “Alien Southerners

  1. Even us aliens like Michigan better than Texas. And moving on to Windsor Canada would be even better, but how can you do that if you admit that you are still a citizen of the empire which kills to prevent secession?

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-myth-of-the-kindly-general-lee/529038/

    Sure, we might be saved by grace (with water), but Lee was old school enough to know that God helps those who help themselves. “Wherever you find the negro, everything is going down around him, and wherever you find a white man, you see everything around him improving…“You will never prosper with blacks, and it is abhorrent to a reflecting mind to be supporting and cherishing those who are plotting and working for your injury, and all of whose sympathies and associations are antagonistic to yours. I wish them no evil in the world—on the contrary, will do them every good in my power, and know that they are misled by those to whom they have given their confidence; but our material, social, and political interests are naturally with the whites.”

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  2. “Has it occurred to many that the same people who have major reservations about the Confederate Monuments generally favor amnesty for undocumented aliens?”

    What’s so surprising about that? They hate the Confederacy because they see it as bigoted; they favour unimpeded, completely wide open immigration, including amnesty for illegal aliens, because they see that as the unbigoted thing to do. Anything that they think signals their unbigoted, non-racist-ness, they support. It’s all about virtue-signalling, as well as hating their own people, particularly working class white rural folks.

    Progs will be progs…

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  3. Hunter Thompson–” ‘Ford told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon’….It was Hoover’s shameless death in 1972 that led directly to Nixon’s downfall. He no longer had access to either the Director or the Director’s ghastly bank of Personal Files on almost everybody in Washington.”

    “It would be easy to forget and forgive Henry Kissinger of his crimes, just as he forgave Nixon. Yes, we could do that — but it would be wrong. Kissinger is a slippery little devil, a world-class hustler with a thick German accent and a very keen eye for weak spots at the top of the power structure. Nixon was one of those, and Super K exploited him mercilessly, all the way to the end. Kissinger made the Gang of Four complete: Agnew, Hoover, Kissinger and Nixon. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/07/he-was-a-crook/308699/

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  4. I see no dissonance between the article by Chris Gehrz and favoring amnesty for undocumented aliens. Obviously, Gehrz was not proud of the history represented by Confederate monuments and that should fit hand-in-hand with favoring amnesty for undocumented workers.

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  5. I’m not for amnesty for illegal immigrants, but I abhor the Confederacy and am all for tearing down the Confederate monuments. That said, I don’t think there’s necessarily a contradiction between being anti-Confederate monuments and pro-amnesty. The pro-amnesty argument is that many illegals are de facto American citizens because they live in America, work in America, have families in America, are integrated into the institutions of America, etc. In essence, the illegal immigrants are more loyal to America and contribute more to American society than the Confederates did,who harmed the country by rebelling against the government and plunging the country into war. Which is more American, the illegal immigrant who otherwise obeys the laws of the land, pays taxes, is civic minded, and contributes positively to society, or the rebels who devastated the nation in defense of immoral slavery and racism?

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  6. VV, those attributes you see in undocumented aliens are the same the federal govt. recognized in the Confederates by granting them amnesty. Now we are supposed to treat them like illegals?

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  7. DGH – no one said we should treat the Confederates as illegals, though what they did was treasonous. I’m arguing that we shouldn’t memorialize those who illegally rebelled, started an unjust war, and defended immoral slavery. I don’t think we should memorialize illegal immigrants either, but I can certainly see the case for granting them amnesty like we did for the Confederates.

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  8. D.G.,
    The monuments honor not just southern Americans from the past, but what they fought for: white supremacy and slavery. So doesn’t that public display of those monuments make Blacks and others aliens?

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  9. D.G.,
    On further reading, it seems that you missed the following from the article you cited:


    The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon.

    “Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that’s challenging,” says Page, author of “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.” “But by hanging out with people different than you, you’re likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive.”

    In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.

    Page calls it the “diversity paradox.” He thinks the contrasting positive and negative effects of diversity can coexist in communities, but “there’s got to be a limit.” If civic engagement falls off too far, he says, it’s easy to imagine the positive effects of diversity beginning to wane as well. “That’s what’s unsettling about his findings,” Page says of Putnam’s new work.

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  10. Curt, I didn’t miss it. Putnam didn’t like his findings and tried to back track.

    But everyone knows that human beings prefer to exist in zone of comfort. Just watch students return to the same seat day after day even when not required.

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