In an interesting article this week, Erick Erickson, formerly of Red State but now with The Resurgent, called for us to consider secession as an alternative strategy for our current national distress. Why? With the latest violent incident by leftist radicals, whom Erickson rightly labels the “American ISIS,” it is obvious that “evil is now dominant” across our country.
If we cannot have federalism, writes Erickson, which is the true genius of the Founders, a system that would guarantee domestic tranquility, and if we continue to work within our present system where the Left is hell-bent on imposing its sick values on all of us, then it is time to end the Union.
I pondered Erickson’s piece for a while, agreeing with his sentiments entirely, then it dawned on me: Could Hodgkinson (or the next radical nut that butchers a bunch of conservatives) be the John Brown of our era?
If I had to pin the South’s secession on one man or on one event, it would have to be John Brown and his raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in October 1859, two years before the “Civil War.”
As a man, Brown had failed at everything he had ever laid his hand to, bankrupting several businesses over the course of his life. Yet he did excel at fatherhood, with 20 children, including 16 sons, in his considerable brood.
As a fanatical abolitionist, Brown believed the only way to rid the country of the stain of slavery was through violence, bloodshed, and murder, even if it included women and children. In the 1850s, as the sectional crisis worsened, Brown dedicated his life to the destruction of slavery. And that’s what he set out to do.
During the crisis over Kansas, which turned violent in 1856, Brown took matters into his own hands after the so-called “Sack of Lawrence.” Seeking to retaliate for pro-slavery acts against free soilers in Lawrence, he and a few supporters hacked five unoffending citizens to death at Pottawatomie Creek.
Seeking to do much more in his crusade, in the fall of 1859 Brown planned his infamous raid into the South, which he believed would spread into a general slave uprising that would sweep the region and overthrow the institution of slavery. His plan failed miserably, as most realized it would, a pessimistic group that included one of his own sons, but not before Brown and his men caused the death of six civilians. Within two days, US troops led by Colonel Robert E. Lee ended Brown’s insurrection. He was hanged for treason two months later.
But to show just how mentally disturbed Brown actually was (several members of his own family were clinically insane, including his mother and grandmother), in his possession the authorities discovered a declaration of independence for all slaves and a constitution for a new black nation in the South, with Brown set to rule over it as “commander-in-chief.”
As if the raid itself wasn’t bad enough, making matters far worse, the South soon discovered that not only were Northerners defending Brown’s actions as righteous, many prominent citizens in the North had advance knowledge and gave financial support to the endeavor.
The psychological impact of all of this on the South was enormous and cannot be overstated, for it was this event, and this event alone, that radicalized the South.
If you could have polled the idea of secession in early 1859, before Brown’s rampage, I dare say the vast majority of Southerners would have desired a continuance in the Union. However, if a poll were taken in the days following the raid, the numbers would, most likely, have been reversed. Letters, diaries, and other evidence points to a radicalization of Southern minds. It pushed even the most moderate of Southerners to embrace the idea of disunion.
Why? Because Southerners no longer felt safe in the old Union of their fathers. Brown may have failed in his venture but the next one might just succeed where he had failed. To an increasing number of Southerners it looked as though the North was trying to exterminate them.
And to understand this fully, you must understand the mind of white Southerners in those days. A slave revolt was the most horrifying thought, the most revolting scenario, and the most disturbing nightmare imaginable. They knew what had happened on the island of Santo Domingo in the 1790s when slaves overthrew their French masters, and Napoleon’s army, to establish a black republic. For Brown to even attempt this horrific act sent panic through Southern souls.
So, given recent events, let us ponder a fair question: Are we safe in the Union today? In just the past year we’ve witnessed increasing violence by liberals against conservatives, culminating in James Hodgkinson’s horrific assassination attempt on Republican members of Congress. The Left, with the full support of prominent Democrats, has even named their movement – “The Resistance.” And they have a very hostile media to push their volatile cause.
Before his execution John Brown wrote, “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood.”
Does this not seem to be the attitude of BLM and Antifa? Do they not seem to believe that harming us is the best way to win power for themselves in order to fasten their way of life on the whole country?
But if not James Hodgkinson, will we see a new John Brown, the one person who pushes the final button igniting another dissolution of the Union? Erick Erickson may just be on to something here and it is certainly a very important point to ponder – we may be safer outside the Union than in it.