A POST on Post, and vice versa

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 2 07:08:25 MDT 2003

> DMS:  The second sentence does not follow automatically from your first.  It
> is  possible that the very same "theory" will be able to account for the
> various manifestions and manifest variations based on concrete analysis of
> the actual history.  It is also possible that an attempt to impose
> progressive class relations was made, AND FAILED, was defeated, for equally
> concrete, historical, propertied reasons. See for example, the program of
> the "radical reconstructionists."  Victory does not automatically preclude
> reversal.

Is it possible that an attempt was made to impose progressive class
relations? Not that I know of. Here is a little reminder:

Lawrence N. Powell, "New Masters : Northern Planters During the Civil
War and Reconstruction", p. 117:

The persistent intransigence of the ex-slaves soon began to affect the
newcomers in an unexpected way. By 1867 an English correspondent
traveling in the South reported finding a large number of northerners
who had "a strong sense of the inferiority of the negro, and of the
necessity of his being coerced into obedience and industry." He was
probably not exaggerating, for after one or two seasons of free labor
[in hated work-gangs], cotton-growing Yankees seem to have been falling
away in droves from the standards of their faith. A few had even grown
nostalgic for the discredited methods of the old order. James Waters had
strong ideas about how to govern that class of freedmen that gave him
most of his headaches. He thought that "many negro women require
whipping." His father was no sexist. "The lazy rascals can only be made
to attend to their work by the whip of the negro driver," he thundered,
"& all I wish is that I had the authority to put one in commission."
Government lessees in the Mississippi Valley did not permit the lack of
authorization to get in their way. Quite a few freedmen complained of
kicking and bodily blows of one sort or another at the hands of the
planters. In the Department of the Gulf it was apparently no different.
Superintendent of Free Labor Thomas Conway condemned those northerners
who were "as ready to whip the freedmen, provided it will bring them
gain, as they are to condemn the same conduct on the part of the man who
formerly owned the freedmen." Even the normally well disposed William C.
Gannett at Port Royal once knocked down an ex-slave who he thought was
misbehaving. George Benham never laid on blows, but he was not above
chaining up runaways in a public place on the plantation in order to
make an example of them. On the whole, the newcomers had lost all
patience with the freedmen and only wished that "every Radical
abolitionist at the North was compelled to carry on a cotton plantation."


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