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samedi, 19 août 2017

The Austrian Empire and the Confederacy

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The Austrian Empire and the Confederacy

 
Ex: http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com
 
The American Civil War was the bloodiest conflict ever fought in the western hemisphere of the world and, as such, attracted a great deal of attention from other powers. Previously, I have discussed on these pages how a war between two factions of republicans actually had a tremendous impact on the monarchist cause in the Americas. Most of the ‘Great Powers’ of Europe had an interest in the War Between the States. The British Empire had an economic interest with southern cotton feeding the textile mills of England while the industrial centers of the northern states were major competitors. Indeed, only a few decades after the war ended with the north victorious, the United States of America surpassed Great Britain as the world’s largest economy and has remained so ever since. The tentative steps of the Kingdom of Spain to rebuild the Spanish Empire in Latin America, the French-backed restoration of the Mexican Empire and the French plans for a “Kingdom of the Andes” in South America all depended on the Confederacy being victorious due to opposition to all such endeavors by the Union government in Washington DC.

The northern states were also home to large numbers of European immigrants who had fled their countries after failed revolutionary movements, so there were many Irish republicans in the north who detested the British Empire and many liberal Germans who had fled in the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1848. The only ‘Great Power’ to be seen at least as supportive of the U.S. government was the Russian Empire and this was mostly due to the fact that Britain and France were seen as friendlier to the Confederacy and the Russians hoped to counter this such as when Russia sold Alaska to the United States in order to prevent it being added to Canada by the British in a potential future conflict. The Austrian Empire was not extremely concerned about events in America, having many pressing problems of their own to deal with at the time, but that is not to say that they were not interested at all. Although the Emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph, had opposed the whole adventure, his younger brother was Emperor of Mexico and thus his fate, and that of the Austrian volunteer corps sent to aid him in Mexico, also depended almost entirely on the Confederates winning their independence.
 

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As also pointed out previously, the Confederacy was also greatly influenced by the style of the Austrian Empire. The uniforms of the Confederate army were inspired by those of the Austrian light infantry and the first Confederate national flag was inspired by the ensign of the Austrian Empire, both being designed by the Prussian artist Nicola Marschall. The Emperor of Austria also had his own “eyes on the ground” so to speak, in the person of Captain FitzGerald Ross, a British-born officer of the Sixth Austrian Hussar Regiment. He made quite a stir in the southern states with his waxed moustache and braided Hussar uniform, in fact he was almost mobbed by admirers after being persuaded by some Confederate officers to wear his full dress uniform, fur busby, dolman and all, for a ride with them. He witness the Battle of Gettysburg, then went to Richmond, Charleston and then Chattanooga, Tennessee where he observed the fight from the lines of the Confederate General Braxton Bragg. He also visited the Gulf coast, Mobile, Alabama and so on. Like many, he was very impressed by the Confederate military and, like many more, was also impressed by the southern ladies. He became an ardent Confederate sympathizer, even to the point of picking up a rifle and taking part in a battle during his long stay in the south. When Ross finally returned to Europe, no matter what bad news reached him, he remained confident that the south would ultimately win.

Such a thing would have, inadvertently, greatly expanded Austrian influence in the New World given that the establishment of a Habsburg monarchy in Mexico (or rather the ‘reestablishment’) would have given Austria a sort of foothold in the region. Confederate President Jefferson Davis was certainly aware of this and tried to enlist the Prussian observer, Captain Justus Scheibert, as an envoy to Emperor Napoleon III of France. He proposed a sort of Franco-Confederate alliance, pointing out that in the Mexican War (of which Davis was a noted veteran) the U.S. had defeated Mexico with only 12,000 men and that if Napoleon would lift the Union blockade of the southern coast, which Davis believed could be done with ‘the stroke of a pen’ and would ensure a Confederate victory, he would supply 20,000 Confederate troops to aid the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, explaining that southern troops were adjusted to the climate and familiar with the fighting style of the Mexicans.

However, this, as we know, did not come to pass. Although tempted, none of the European powers ultimately were bold enough to risk war with the United States by recognizing the Confederacy (though Pope Pius IX did address a letter to Jefferson Davis as President of the C.S.A.). When the Confederacy fell, the effort to spread monarchy in the Americas quickly fell apart. The U.S. government dispatched an army to the south Texas border and warned the French to withdraw or face war. Napoleon, not wishing to see the enterprise be for nothing, hoped that the Austrian Empire would take up the French cause of supporting the Mexican imperialists. A further 2,000 Austrian volunteers (roughly) were assembled at the port of Trieste, ready to embark for Mexico and fight for Emperor Maximilian. It was, though, at that point that the Union government stepped in by way of U.S. Minister to Vienna John Lothrop Motley who went to the Hofburg and informed the Austrian Emperor quite bluntly that the U.S. recognized only Benito Juarez as the leader of the legitimate Mexican government and that if the Austrian troops were allowed to leave, the U.S. would consider the Austrian Empire to be at war with the Mexican Republic and the U.S. Navy would take retaliatory action on behalf of Mexico.
 

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The expedition was thus canceled, the Austrian soldiers disbanded and the Austrian Volunteer Corps already fighting in Mexico was promptly recalled. Many had already been slaughtered at the Battle of Santa Gertrudis where, seeing which way the winds were blowing, their comrades of the Mexican Imperial Army had deserted in the middle of the battle to join the republicans. The surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Court House in 1865 had set the dominos to falling, the Austrians pulled out and shortly thereafter the Habsburg Emperor of Mexico was captured and shot, the Austrian Emperor then even having a difficult time retrieving the body of his slain younger brother. The Imperial House of Habsburg had had a presence in the Americas ever since Philip the Handsome and Charles V had held their Spanish crowns until the succession was taken up by the Bourbons of France. In 1864, however, another Habsburg returned to, he hoped, usher in a new era of monarchy in the Americas but with the fall of the Confederacy, it was inevitable that the Habsburgs would once again lose their place in the New World.

mercredi, 04 février 2015

Exporting Sherman’s March

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Sherman statue anchors one southern corner of Central Park (with Columbus on a stick anchoring the other):
 
Exporting Sherman’s March

By

DavidSwanson.org

& http://www.lewrockwell.com

shermans_ghosts.jpgMatthew Carr’s new book, Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War, is presented as “an antimilitarist military history” — that is, half of it is a history of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s conduct during the U.S. Civil War, and half of it is an attempt to trace echoes of Sherman through major U.S. wars up to the present, but without any romance or glorification of murder or any infatuation with technology or tactics. Just as histories of slavery are written nowadays without any particular love for slavery, histories of war ought to be written, like this one, from a perspective that has outgrown it, even if U.S. public policy is not conducted from that perspective yet.

What strikes me most about this history relies on a fact that goes unmentioned: the former South today provides the strongest popular support for U.S. wars. The South has long wanted and still wants done to foreign lands what was — in a much lesser degree — done to it by General Sherman.

What disturbs me most about the way this history is presented is the fact that every cruelty inflicted on the South by Sherman was inflicted ten-fold before and after on the Native Americans. Carr falsely suggests that genocidal raids were a feature of Native American wars before the Europeans came, when in fact total war with total destruction was a colonial creation. Carr traces concentration camps to Spanish Cuba, not the U.S. Southwest, and he describes the war on the Philippines as the first U.S. war after the Civil War, following the convention that wars on Native Americans just don’t count (not to mention calling Antietam “the single most catastrophic day in all U.S. wars” in a book that includes Hiroshima). But it is, I think, the echo of that belief that natives don’t count that leads us to the focus on Sherman’s march to the sea, even as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza are destroyed with weapons named for Indian tribes. Sherman not only attacked the general population of Georgia and the Carolinas on his way to Goldsboro — a spot where the U.S. military would later drop nuclear bombs (that very fortunately didn’t explode) — but he provided articulate justifications in writing, something that had become expected of a general attacking white folks.

What intrigues me most is the possibility that the South today could come to oppose war by recognizing Sherman’s victims in the victims of U.S. wars and occupations. It was in the North’s occupation of the South that the U.S. military first sought to win hearts and minds, first faced IEDs in the form of mines buried in roads, first gave up on distinguishing combatants from noncombatants, first began widely and officially (in the Lieber Code) claiming that greater cruelty was actually kindness as it would end the war more quickly, and first defended itself against charges of war crimes using language that it (the North) found entirely convincing but its victims (the South) found depraved and sociopathic. Sherman employed collective punishment and the assaults on morale that we think of as “shock and awe.” Sherman’s assurances to the Mayor of Atlanta that he meant well and was justified in all he did convinced the North but not the South. U.S. explanations of the destruction of Iraq persuade Americans and nobody else.

sher4130-004-383D8192.jpgSherman believed that his nastiness would turn the South against war. “Thousands of people may perish,” he said, “but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting. If Peace ever falls to their lot they will never again invite War.” Some imagine this to be the impact the U.S. military is having on foreign nations today. But have Iraqis grown more peaceful? Does the U.S. South lead the way in peace activism? When Sherman raided homes and his troops employed “enhanced interrogations” — sometimes to the point of death, sometimes stopping short — the victims were people long gone from the earth, but people we may be able to “recognize” as people. Can that perhaps help us achieve the same mental feat with the current residents of Western Asia? The U.S. South remains full of monuments to Confederate soldiers. Is an Iraq that celebrates today’s resisters 150 years from now what anyone wants?

When the U.S. military was burning Japanese cities to the ground it was an editor of the Atlanta Constitution who, quoted by Carr, wrote “If it is necessary, however, that the cities of Japan are, one by one, burned to black ashes, that we can, and will, do.” Robert McNamara said that General Curtis LeMay thought about what he was doing in the same terms as Sherman. Sherman’s claim that war is simply hell and cannot be civilized was then and has been ever since used to justify greater cruelty, even while hiding within it a deep truth: that the civilized decision would be to abolish war.

The United States now kills with drones, including killing U.S. citizens, including killing children, including killing U.S. citizen children. It has not perhaps attacked its own citizens in this way since the days of Sherman. Is it time perhaps for the South to rise again, not in revenge but in understanding, to join the side of the victims and say no to any more attacks on families in their homes, and no therefore to any more of what war has become?

samedi, 11 octobre 2014

Northern Opposition to Lincoln’s War

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Debunking the Myth of “National Unity”: Northern Opposition to Lincoln’s War

Of course, there is never “national unity” about anything, especially war, democratic politics being what it is.  When is the last time you heard of a unanimous vote expressing national unity in the U.S. Congress about anything?  Even the vote to declare war on Japan after Pearl Harbor was not unanimous.

The myth of national unity during the “Civil War” was invented and cultivated by the history profession, the Republican Party, and the New England clergy in the post-war era to “justify” the killing of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens in the Southern states; the plundering of the South during “Reconstruction;” the destruction of the voluntary union of the states and the system of federalism that was created by the founding fathers; and the adoption of Hamiltonian mercantilism as America’s new economic system.

Any serious student of the “Civil War” knows that this is all absurd nonsense.  In addition to myriad draft riots, there were massive desertions from the Union Army from the very beginning of the war (see Ella Lonn, Desertion During the Civil War); Lincoln did shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprison thousands of Northern political dissenters without due process.  He did deport the most outspoken Democratic Party critic in Congress, Clement L. Vallandigham of Dayton, Ohio.  He did rig elections by having soldiers intimidate Democratic Party voters.  And he did send some 15,000 federal troops to murder the New York City draft rioters by the hundreds in July of 1863. All of this has been discussed for decades in “mainstream” history scholarship such as Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln by James Randall and Freedom Under Lincoln by Dean Sprague.  The history profession has, however, done a meticulous job in seeing to it that such facts rarely, if ever, make it into the textbooks that are used in the public schools.

But times are changing in the era of the internet and of independent scholarship on the subject by scholars associated with such organizations as the Abbeville Institute.  The Institute’s latest publication is entitled Northern Opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s War, edited by D. Jonathan White.  It includes essays by White, Brion McClanahan, Marshall DeRosa, Arthur Trask, Joe Stromberg, Richard Valentine, Richard Gamble, John Chodes, and Allen Mendenhall.  These nine scholarly essays destroy the nationalist myth of “national unity” in the North during the War to Prevent Southern Independence.

Marshall DeRosa’s opening essay on “President Franklin Pierce and the War for Southern Independence” goes a long way in explaining why the nationalists in American politics believed that it was imperative to invent the myth of national unity.  President Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire was a Democrat who opposed the invasion of the Southern states.   He was a Jeffersonian, states-rights president, which is why he was mercilessly smeared by Lincoln’s hatchet man, William Seward, who accused him of treason (re-defined by the Lincoln administration as any criticism of it and its policies).  The real objects of Seward and Lincoln’s wrath towards Pierce, DeRosa explains, were the ideas that President Pierce stood for and was elected president on, as illustrated in the Democratic Party Platform of 1852.

The main ideas of this platform, upon which Pierce ran for president were: a federal government of limited powers, delegated to it by the states; opposition to the form of corporate welfare known as “internal improvements”; free trade and open immigration; gradual extinction of the national debt; opposition to a national bank; and realizing that the Constitution would have to be amended as a means of peacefully ending slavery.  This latter position was the position of the famous nineteenth-century libertarian abolitionist, Lysander Spooner, author of The Unconstitutionality of Slavery.

It was because of these ideas that Pierce was libeled and smeared by the Republican Party of his day, with subsequent generations of historians merely repeating the smears disguised as “scholarship.”  Lincoln’s claim to fame, on the other hand, writes DeRosa, “is not that he adhered to the rule of law [as Pierce did], but that he had the audacity to disregard it.”  Thanks to the history profession, moreover, “Americans continue to pay homage to the villains that laid the tracks to our present sorry state of affairs.”

D. Jonathan White surveys the Northern opponents of Lincoln’s war that were slandered by the administration and its media mouthpieces as “copperheads” (snakes in the grass).  Among the “copperheads” were many prominent citizens of the North who, like President Pierce, were passionate defenders of the rule of law and constitutionally-limited government.  Their main complaints were against Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus and the mass arrest of Northern political opponents without due process; the draft law, which they considered to be a form of slavery; the income tax imposed by the Lincoln administration – the first in American history; and protectionist tariffs (the cornerstone of the Republican Party platform of 1860).  Because of these beliefs, hundreds, if not thousands of “copperheads” were imprisoned without due process by the Lincoln administration.

Allen Mendenhall contributes a very interesting article about how the famous U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was wounded three times in the war, became a sharp critic of Lincoln, his “mystical” union, and the war during the rest of his life.  Brion McClanahan’s essay describes in scholarly detail the Jeffersonian Democrats in the state of Delaware who opposed the war (the state gave its three electoral votes and 46 percent of the popular vote to Southern Democrat John Breckenridge in the 1860 election).  R.T. Valentine does essentially the same thing in his chapter on opposition to Lincoln’s policies in Westchester County, New York and the greater Hudson Valley.  He describes in detail how the residents of these areas, many of whom had family history in the area going back to the time of the founding, deeply resented the pushy, imperialistic, arrogant “Yankees” who were the base of Lincoln’s support and who had been moving into New York state from New England in droves.

Arthur Trask demonstrates that there was also a great deal of opposition to Lincoln’s war in Philadelphia, where many residents had long-lasting business and personal relationships with Southerners, while John Chodes writes of the horrible wartime governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton, who apparently fancied himself as a mini-Lincoln with his imprisonment of dissenters and other dictatorial acts.

Joe Stromberg and Richard Gamble contribute chapters that explain the role of the Northern clergy in instigating the war.  Stromberg writes of the impulse of many Northern clergymen to use the coercive powers of the state to try to create some version of heaven on earth.  Worse yet,  “[T]he war of 1861-1865, as preached by the clergy surveyed here, became a permanent template for subsequent American crusades, whatever their origins.  From the Free Soil argument of the 1850s, through two World Wars, Cold War, and down to Iraq and beyond.  American leaders insist that their latest enemy [ISIS?] is both inherently expansionist and committed to some form of slavery.  It is therefore the duty of the new enemy to surrender ‘unconditionally’ and undergo reconstruction and reeducation for the good of all mankind . . .”

Richard Gamble traces the transformation of “Old School Presbyterianism” to where it embraced “political preaching.”  For example, upon Lincoln’s election a national assembly meeting in Philadelphia issued a proclamation that was “a turning point in the history of American Presbyterianism”:  “That in the judgment of this Assembly, it is the duty of the ministry and churches under its care to do all in their power to promote and perpetuate the integrity of the Unite States [government], and to strengthen, uphold, and encourage the Federal Government.”  The Old School Presbyterians, writes Gamble, “enlisted their church on the Union side,” which is to say, the side that would soon be invading, murdering, raping, and plundering its way through the Southern states.  This, Gamble argues, is how war and imperialism became the keystone of America’s “civil religion.”  This bogus “religion” is illustrated a thousand times over in the Laurence Vance archives on LewRockwell.com.

The Abbeville Institute is to be congratulated for publishing this latest correction of the historical record regarding Lincoln’s war.  Northern Opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s War should be a part of the library of every American who resents having been lied to by his teachers, professors, film makers, and authors, and who seeks the truth about his own country’s history.

The Best of Thomas DiLorenzo 

vendredi, 06 janvier 2012

John Brown, discutibile eroe abolizionista, perseguiva scientemente la guerra civile americana

John Brown, discutibile eroe abolizionista, perseguiva scientemente la guerra civile americana

di Francesco Lamendola

Fonte: Arianna Editrice [scheda fonte]




«John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian,
dopo una lunga lotta contro l’oppressor;
John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian
ma l’anima vive ancor…! […]
L’hanno impiccato come fosse un traditor,
ma traditore fu colui che lo impiccò;
John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian,
ma l’anima vive ancor…!»

Immagino che a molti bambini che hanno frequentato le elementari negli anni Sessanta, come me, sia stata insegnata, nell’ora di musica, questa canzone dalle note squillanti e dal ritmo maestoso, quasi solenne, magari da una maestra di canto che s’infervorava come se stesse celebrando una solenne liturgia profana.
L’altra canzone preferita di quella maestra  era «Bella ciao», che ci faceva cantare ogni settimana, immancabilmente, e sempre con pari trasporto: mentre pestava sui tasti del pianoforte, ci guardava con occhio di falco, per scoprire se qualcuno faceva solo finta di cantare, muovendo in silenzio le labbra; si vedeva che, per lei, quella musica e quelle parole rappresentavano una dichiarazione di guerra a tutto ciò che considerava politicamente e moralmente riprovevole: lo schiavismo degli Stati Uniti del Sud e il fascismo, affastellati nella stessa, inesorabile condanna.
Ogni nuova religione ha le sue precise liturgie, come e più della vecchia, ch’essa pretende di soppiantare; il marxismo, che è stato la nuova religione dell’Occidente fin quasi alla vigilia del crollo del sistema sovietico, aveva le sue; e questa era una di quelle, dove la maestra comunista poteva contrapporre il suo giovane e trionfante credo laico, portatore di luce e di giustizia fra i popoli, a quello del prete che, in oratorio, somministrava ai bambini le preesistenti certezze, vetuste d’anni e perciò affascinanti, ma verosimilmente - così sembrava allora, quasi a tutti - destinate alla sconfitta, per disseccamento e consunzione.
John Brown, dunque, nella mitologia progressista e libertaria degli ani Sessanta, era una sacra icona di quella nuova religione laica, che era resa sempre più autorevole e suggestiva dai trionfi della “sua” scienza (i primi viaggi nello spazio e i primi sbarchi sulla Luna, sia pure con astronavi senza equipaggio, da parte dei Sovietici); egli aveva lottato, come un nobile cavaliere dell’ideale, per l’idea di giustizia sociale più evidente e d’immediata comprensione: il diritto di ciascun essere umano di nascere e rimanere libero da qualsiasi padrone.
E lasciamo perdere se, nel sistema della politica e dell’economia moderne, la tanto celebrata “libertà” dell’individuo sia davvero tutelata come quei sacerdoti della nuova fede, così come i loro irriducibili avversari capitalisti - nell’esaltazione dell’antischiavismo erano tutti d’accordo, così come nella esecrazione del fascismo e nell’azzeramento di vent’anni della storia italiana recentissima - andavano trionfalisticamente sostenendo; lasciamo perdere, perché ciò meriterebbe un discorso a parte.
Nella canzoncina, universalmente nota, dedicata alla celebrazione della figura di John Brown, vi sono molti tratti di derivazione religiosa: in effetti, più che una celebrazione laica, sembra un martirologio in piena regola; vi è, inoltre, un tacito parallelismo (e tutto a suo favore) con l’immagine del Cristo crocifisso, perché, se l’anima di entrambi vive ancora, John Brown è sceso nella tomba dopo aver lottato lungamente contro l’oppressore, mentre Cristo non ha saputo fare altro che amare tutti gli uomini, anche i nemici, e perdonare i suoi stessi carnefici…
Ma i bambini crescono e capita che vengano presi da strane curiosità; per esempio, da quella di verificare sino a che punto l‘agiografia di quei “santi” laici del Progresso, della Libertà e della Giustizia corrisponda, non diciamo alla palese idealizzazione che ne è stata fatta a scopo ideologico, ma, almeno un poco, a quella che gli storici hanno ancora il vizio incorreggibile di chiamare “la verità dei fatti”.
John Brown, dunque, è stato un profeta armato: questo è il primo dato di fatto che, sfrondato l’alone della leggenda, emerge incontrovertibile; nessuno scandalo in questo, la storia è letteralmente piena di profeti armati, più numerosi, senza dubbio, di quelli disarmati e specialmente sul terreno politico e sociale: per un Gandhi che pratica, e predica, la lotta nonviolenta, se ne trovano almeno dieci che danno senz’altro la parola al fucile, sia pure, beninteso, anzi specialmente, per affermare i sacrosanto principi dell’89: libertà, fraternità, uguaglianza.
Benissimo; risulta un po’ più difficile conciliare questa attitudine all’azione violenta con la Bibbia, la grande sorgente d’ispirazione di John Brown; ma anche questa apparente difficoltà scompare, o si riduce di molto, se si considera che, per il puritanesimo della Nuova Inghilterra, di cui egli era profondamente imbevuto, l’Antico Testamento, col suo Yahweh giusto, ma terribile e sovente poco misericordioso, sembra pesare assai più del Nuovo, tutto pervaso dalla lieta novella di Cristo sull’amore e sul perdono. Brown può aver visto benissimo gli schiavisti del Sud con lo stesso occhio col quale i Giudici dell’Antico Testamento guardavano ai Filistei, agli Amaleciti e agli altri popoli “idolatri” che avevano l’imperdonabile presunzione di abitare la terra che Yahweh aveva promesso a loro e solamente a loro, ossia come pagani da sterminare, contro i quali qualunque azione diventava lecita e santa.
Tutti sanno che John Brown fu catturato dopo aver dato l’assalto all’arsenale federale di Harper’s Ferry, le cui armi intendeva distribuire ai negri per provocare una insurrezione generale; che in quella azione caddero, combattendo, sia alcuni dei suoi seguaci, sia alcuni soldati; e che affrontò virilmente il processo per cospirazione, omicidio e insurrezione armata e la conseguente impiccagione, il 2 dicembre 1859, appena quattro mesi prima che gli Stati del Sud proclamassero la secessione dal Nord e avesse principio la Guerra civile americana.
Sono un po’ meno numerosi, nel grosso pubblico, coloro i quali sanno che, prima dell’azione di Harper’s Ferry, Brown aveva scorrazzato in lungo e in largo con le truculente milizie volontarie del Kansas, i cosiddetti “freesolilers”, e che, il 24 maggio 1856, a Pottawatomie Creek, aveva guidato una spedizione che si era conclusa con l’assassinio a freddo di cinque sudisti: episodio che incomincia già a gettare una luce un po’ diversa sulla sua figura, così come l’hanno divulgata e mitizzata, prima e soprattutto dopo la sua more, con tanto successo, i suoi estimatori.
La realtà è che egli fu l’artefice principale della propria leggenda: durante il processo, infatti, si rese conto di avere in mano uno strumento formidabile per presentare se stesso come il puro idealista senza macchia e senza paura e per guadagnare alla causa antischiavista larghi settori dell’opinione pubblica; un po’ come aveva fatto, solo un anno prima, Felice Orsini con la causa nazionale italiana, allorché era stato processato per aver tentato di assassinare l’imperatore francese Napoleone III (e chissà se Brown ne era a conoscenza e ne aveva tratto ispirazione).
Quello che, però, rivela pienamente la mentalità dell’uomo e la sua concezione dell’etica, in nome della quale pretendeva di combattere gli orrori dello schiavismo, è un altro fatto: e cioè la convinzione, ormai raggiunta pressoché unanimemente dagli storici, che egli già da tempo si fosse posto l’obiettivo preciso di scatenare, mediante una azione di tipo insurrezionale altamente spettacolare, una reazione tale da parte degli Stati schiavisti, da spingerli a rompere con l’Unione e, di conseguenza, da provocare una guerra civile fra il Sud e il Nord, dalla quale soltanto si aspettava l’abolizione della schiavitù.
Aveva osservato un acuto biografo italiano di John Brown, Giulio Schenone, nel suo libro «John Brown, l’apostolo degli schiavi» (Mursia, Milano, 1984, pp. 150-54):

«John Brown, sin dall’infanzia,si inserì pienamente nella realtà del suo tempo: nella formazione della sua personalità, infatti, entrarono in gioco due delle forze più permeanti del carattere americano di sempre, il puritanesimo della Nuova Inghilterra e la “frontiera”. Ne venne fuori un uomo tutto d’un pezzo, forte nell’animo quanto nel corpo, e deciso a vivere la sua vita ispirandosi ai sacri principi che la sua religione gli aveva inculcato: la sua visione  della vita fu però, per un certo tempo, deformata in parte per questo suo rigorismo biblico, in parte per l’incrollabile fiducia nelle sue capacità che lo condussero ad una considerazione delle cose troppo approssimativa e superficiale.  […]
Probabilmente fu una più attenta lettura  del vecchio testamento che lo convinse definitivamente ad imboccare la strada della violenza, ma non si deve per questo pensare che l’abolizionismo violento di Brown non avesse radici nella realtà del tempo.  Fu, al contrario, la realtà che lo aveva più volte sconfitto, la realtà di quegli anni, che esplodeva di tanto in tanto in lampi di violenza (culminati nel 1857 con l’assassinio di Lovejoy) a spingerlo a ripudiare l’abolizionismo fatto di parole dei suoi amici; gli esempi, poi, di Mosè, Giosuè, Gedeone, che anche con la violenza avevano liberato il loro popolo dal servaggio, fecero il resto e gli indicarono perentoriamente la via da seguire. Nacque così nella sua mente il “piano virginiano”, che la maggior parte degli studiosi ha definito impietosamente, ma anche ingiustamente, pazzesco o per lo meno utopistico; Sanborn, invece, accosta lo schema di Brown all’impresa dei Mille di Garibaldi, e il paragone è significativamente ripreso da Luraghi, che attribuisce il fallimento pratico del piano non alla sua presunta inattuabilità, ma all’idea sbagliata che Brown si era fatto della schiavitù.
Ma quella visione astratta e irreale del Sud non era frutto dell’immaginazione del solo Brown; era comune infatti ad una intera generazione di abolizionisti che anzi, con la loro letteratura, avevano indotto il Vecchio a credere ciecamente nella collaborazione attiva degli schiavi al suo piano. Questa fu l’unica utopia nella quale credette un uomo che era diventato invece, col passare degli anni, estremamente lucido e consapevole di quello che stava avvenendo nel suo Paese e soprattutto di quello che sarebbe potuto avvenire a determinate condizioni. Di fronte allo scoppio del conflitto civile nel Kansas e alle violente diatribe dei congressisti, che rendevano oltremodo chiara l’enorme distanza che separava ormai irrimediabilmente le due parti del Paese, Brown intravide forse la possibilità di costringere il Sud alla secessione e quindi il Nord al conflitto armato:; la testimonianza di Salmon Brown riguardo alle reali intenzioni del padre, CI PUÒ PORTARE ALLA CONCLUSIONE CHE GIÀ NEL 1854 BROWN AVEVA PREVISTO E SI ERA POSTO COME OBIETTIVO LA GUERRA CIVILE [il corsivo è nostro]. Questa è lungimiranza, non utopia, e del resto la susseguente attività del capitano nel Kansas testimonia la sua lucida e consapevole presenza nella realtà del tempo: appena giunto nel Territorio, si rese conto del terrore che immobilizzava i coloni “freesoilers”, e sferrò con l’eccidio del Pottawatomie un colpo così tremendo che cambiò immediatamente le carte in tavola e volse le sorti del conflitto a favore dei “freesoilers. […]
Ci voleva un’ulteriore provocazione perché le minoranze estremiste, che da tempo agitavano gli stendardi della secessione e della guerra, acquistassero una forza tale da impadronirsi definitivamente dell’opinione pubblica e da trascinare al conflitto anche la maggioranza riluttante.
BROWN COMPRESE CHE POTEVA CREARE QUESTA PROVOCAZIONE PROPRIO SERVENDOSI DELLE CATENE E DELLE FERITE CHE I SUOI NEMICI GLI AVEVANO INFLITTO: CREANDO UNA IMMAGINE PERFETTA E IDEALE DI SE STESSO POTEVA DIMOSTRARE ALL’OPINIONE PUBBLICA DEL NORD CHE LUI, JOHN BROWN, ERA IL SANTO MENTRE I SUDISTI, CHE LO PERSEGUITAVANO E LO CONDANNAVANO A MORTE, ERANO I DIAVOLI [corsivo nostro].[…]
Di fronte a questo John Brown umano e pietoso [durante il processo] sarebbe presto svanita nel Nord l’immagine truculenta del “giustiziere del Pottawatomie”, tanto più che al processo quello stesso John Brown recitò, con perizia e abilità da attore consumato, la parte del martire solo e indifeso di fronte ai suoi carnefici, così crudeli da non sentire pietà nemmeno per le sue precarie condizioni di salute [era rimasto ferito nello scontro di Harper’s Ferry, per cui presenziava alle udienze disteso in barella]. Il Nord fu letteralmente conquistato da questo nuovo personaggio che perorava così bene la sua causa di fronte alla Corte di Charlestown, e non si accorse minimamente delle palesi inesattezze presenti nell’ultimo discorso di Brown che, ponendo un suggello così splendido a tutta la recita precedente, riuscì ad ingannare l’America intera.»

Pianificare e perseguire scientemente, a mente fredda, la massima sciagura che possa colpire la propria nazione: lo scoppio di una guerra civile, con tutto l’immancabile bagaglio di odio, di sete di vendetta e di violenza belluina che essa porta con sé, e che è destinata a trascinarsi per generazioni dopo la sua conclusione: questo, dunque, il disegno politico di John Brown; questa la sua utopia nera, la sua implacabile volontà di distruzione.
E la cosa è tanto più sconcertante, allorché si consideri che tale disegno nasceva da non tanto da un pensiero, quanto da un sentimento, che si ispirava direttamente alla Bibbia: la stessa Bibbia che i teorici dello schiavismo invocavano per giustificare l’istituto della schiavitù (la maledizione dei discendenti di Cam), a Brown serviva per pianificare, in nome di un’altissima istanza morale di giustizia, la deliberata preparazione non solo di una guerra, ma di una guerra civile: la più distruttiva, la più devastante fra tutti i tipi di guerra.
I carnai di Bull Run, di Fredericksburg, di Chancellorsville, di Gettysburg; le stragi seminate dalle nuovi armi, in particolare dalla mitragliatrice; gli incendi, i saccheggi, gli stupri, la fame, le devastazioni che prostrarono per sempre gli Stati sudisti: tutto questo ebbe inizio nella lucida follia di questo sinistro personaggio, che, la Bibbia in una mano e il fucile nell’altra, chiamava a raccolta i demoni dell’odio e della guerra e, incurante delle conseguenze, pensava soltanto al raggiungimento del suo scopo; non tralasciando di presentare un’immagine leggendaria di se stesso, tale da poter essere venerata nei tempi a venire, come quella di un santo laico.
Come, difatti, è avvenuto.


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