Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Age Old Forgery Still Used to Denigrate Jefferson Davis

A few years ago I read a biography of Jefferson Davis by a northern author, written in the 1930's. The author described an incendiary speech, said to have been delivered by Davis as a response to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The author stated flatly that the speech was a forgery, created for propaganda purposes during the American Civil War, and gave examples of similar forgeries occurring in American history.

Nevertheless, this fake speech still circulates on the internet, in college classrooms and websites, presented as fact and used to denigrate Davis and his cause. Once in a while you will come across this forgery, so be prepared.

That Jefferson Davis never gave such a speech is obvious. It isn't included in any scholarly collections of his papers or speeches or newspapers of the time period. For example, see this listing of Davis's speeches on the Rice University website. The speech Jeff Davis gave on January 14, 1863 doesn't remotely resemble the fraudulent one [reproduced below].  (You can read the actual speech given by Davis at this link.)

Furthermore, though Harper's Magazine of January 31, 1863 did print Jeff Davis's response to the Emancipation Proclamation, those remarks did not resemble the fraudulent address herein described. It is doubtful that such an incendiary speech by Davis would have been overlooked, particularly one specifically addressed to "to the People of the Free States by the President of the Southern Confederacy."

Further evidence that the address is fraudulent is that Jeff Davis allegedly says ".....and entertaining the belief that the day is not distant when the old Union will be restored with slavery nationally declared to be the proper condition of all of African descent...." Jefferson Davis would never had said any such thing. He was utterly determined and committed to preserving the independence of the Southern states; restoration of the Union was to him unthinkable. Furthermore, Jefferson Davis acknowledged that slavery would come to an end at some point in the future, regardless of the outcome of the Civil War.

In the speech Jefferson Davis allegedly makes powerful policy decisions as if he were a dictator, when in reality such decisions would have to be approved by the Confederate Congress.

Here's the forged speech. If you see it anywhere, know it for what it is.
An Address to the People of the Free States by the President of the Southern Confederacy, Richmond, January 5, 1863.

Citizens of the non-slaveholding States of America, swayed by peaceable motives, I have used all my influence, often thereby endangering my position as the President of the Southern Confederacy, to have the unhappy conflict now existing between my people and yourselves, governed by those well established international rules, which heretofore have softened the asperities which necessarily are the concomitants of a state of belligerency, but all my efforts in the premises have heretofore been unavailing. Now, therefore, I am compelled e necessitati rei to employ a measure, which most willingly I would have omitted to do, regarding, as I always must, State Rights, as the very organism of politically associated society.

For nearly two years my people have been defending their inherent rights their political, social and religious rights against the speculators of New England and their allies in the States heretofore regarded as conservative. The people of the Southern Confederacy have -- making sacrifices such as the modern world has never witnessed -- patiently, but determinedly, stood between their home interests and the well paid, well fed and well clad mercenaries of the Abolitionists, and I need not say that they have nobly vindicated the good name of American citizens. Heretofore, the warfare has been conducted by white men -- peers, scions of the same stock; but the programme has been changed, and your rulers despairing of a triumph by the employment of white men, have degraded you and themselves, by inviting the cooperation of the black race. Thus, while they deprecate the intervention of white men -- the French and the English -- in behalf of the Southern Confederacy, they, these Abolitionists, do not hesitate to invoke the intervention of the African race in favor of the North.

The time has, therefore, come when a becoming respect for the good opinion of the civilized world impels me to set forth the following facts:

First. Abraham Lincoln, the President of the Non-Slaveholding States, has issued his proclamation, declaring the slaves within the limits of the Southern Confederacy to be free.

Second. Abraham Lincoln has declared that the slaves so emancipated may be used in the Army and Navy, now under his control, by which he means to employ, against the Free People of the South, insurrectionary measures, the inevitable tendency of which will be to inaugurate a Servile War, and thereby prove destructive, in a great measure, to slave property.

Now, therefore, as a compensatory measure, I do hereby issue the following Address to the People of the Non-Slaveholding States:

On and after February 22, 1863, all free negroes within the limits of the Southern Confederacy shall be placed on the slave status, and be deemed to be chattels, they and their issue forever. All negroes who shall be taken in any of the States in which slavery does not now exist, in the progress of our arms, shall be adjudged, immediately after such capture, to occupy the slave status, and in all States which shall be vanquished by our arms, all free negroes shall, ipsofacto, be reduced to the condition of helotism, so that the respective normal conditions of the white and black races may be ultimately placed on a permanent basis, so as to prevent the public peace from being thereafter endangered.

Therefore, while I would not ignore the conservative policy of the Slave States, namely, that a Federal Government cannot, without violating the fundamental principles of a Constitution, interfere with the internal policy of several States; since, however, Abraham Lincoln has seen fit to ignore the Constitution he has solemnly sworn to support, it ought not be considered polemically or politically improper in me to vindicate the position which has been at an early day of this Southern republic, assumed by the Confederacy, namely, that slavery is the corner-stone of a Western Republic. It is not necessary for me to elaborate this proposition. I may merely refer, in passing, to the prominent fact, that the South is emphatically a producing section of North America; this is equally true of the West and Northwest, the people of which have been mainly dependent on the South for the consumption of their products. The other States, in which slavery does not exist, have occupied a middle position, as to the South, West and Northwest. The States of New England, from which all complicated difficulties have arisen, owe their greatness and power to the free suffrages of all other sections of North America; and yet, as is now evident, they have, from the adoption of the Federal Constitution, waged a persistent warfare against the interests of all the other States of the old Union. The great centre of their opposition has been Slavery, while the annual statistics of their respective State Governments abundantly prove that they entertain within all their boundaries fewer negroes than any single State which does not tolerate slavery.

In view of these facts, and conscientiously believing that the proper condition of the negro is slavery, or a complete subjection to the white man, -- and entertaining the belief that the day is not distant when the old Union will be restored with slavery nationally declared to be the proper condition of all of African descent, and in view of the future harmony and progress of all the States of America, I have been induced to issue this address, so that there may be no misunderstanding in the future.

The commentary of a modern university teacher is included below:
This document shows Jefferson Davis, the commander-in-chief of the
confederate armies, firmly promulgating the national policy that the
southern armies were fighting for slavery. It also belies any supposed
confederate support for blacks in their own ranks, as Davis clearly regards
having blacks as soldiers degrades white society.
There's only one problem, lady. Jeff Davis never wrote it or said it.


  1. Davis was appalled that the North was spinning the cause of the war to be slavery. Davis truly was a good man. By the way, got you linked at my blog

  2. Thanks Daley! I will certainly return the compliment.

  3. Davis bragged that slavery was the cause of the Civil War -- read his own book, and read the Southern Ultimatums. This speech, which you claim is a forgery, not only is not a forgery, it is essentially identical to other things Davis said at other times, not unusual at all. Davis said in his own book that the "intolerable grievance" was Lincoln's resistance to the spread of slavery -- or as he used the term "our rights in the territories". Davis was already, and for a decade, trying to spread slavery under US control, and set up a new nation controlled by slave owners, into Cuba, Kansas, South America.

    Learn real history, get back to me.

  4. Davis said plenty of the same things, in other speeches, though he usually used euphamisms. VIce President Alexander Stephens also said these things -- loudly and proudly. Read Stephens Cornerstone speech. It's funny that people like you also call Stephens Cornerstone speech a forgery, when not only was it reprinted in newspapers at the time, you can read it now on google newspapers, but Stephens was later interviewed, I think about 1875, shown the speech, and asked to comment on it. He said that was his speech, essentially. He actually admitted he edited the speech for newspaper men at the time, to correct phrases, and so the speeches as it relates to the newspaper reports were pretty accurate. Furthermore, even years later, Stephens stood by the speech, with one big exception -- he now admitted that much of what he saw about slavery -- particularly how slave women were treated -- was "disgusting". What he dared not say is the truth about slave owers regularly raping their slave women, it happened often. In fact, Robert E Lee's slaves were some of the lightest skinned slaves in CSA. Over half of Lee's slaves were light skinned.

    There is no evidence that Lee was the man raping slaves at Arlington, according to Elizabeth Pryor, who studied this point extensively, but SOMEONE was raping the slave women at Arlington, someone white, and Lee knew who that was, if it was not him.

  5. Mendacious Mark, I have never said Stephens "Cornerstone Speech" was a forgery, and the forged speech referred to in my post has indeed been found a forgery by actual scholars, Sorry if that interferes with your fantasies about the glorious North, but then, so much of Northern history is a lie. As for Stephens, he spoke for himself, and was not appointed by anyone to speak for the whole South. That said, his opinions about the inferiority of blacks was not much different from the opinions of Abe Lincoln, a white supremacist who said much the same things.

  6. Mark, everything you say in this comment is sheer bullshit. There is not an iota of truth in it. I can't refute a fantasy, so I won't try.

  7. Heck. That guy won't believe us that the War wasn't over slavery. Why don't we cite a source he can't argue with- Lincoln. In April 1861, Lincoln announced a call for volunteers. he said, in part-

    [quote] Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of
    the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

    I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress
    wrongs already long enough endured.

    I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event
    the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation,
    and destruction of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.[end quote]

    Strange. I do not see a single word, not any reference at all to slavery, let alone a call to end it. If anything, it sounds like he said con't mess with it if you consider the call to "avoid any devastation, and destruction of peaceful citizens..." If you ACTUALLY READ Lincoln's writings, a rather strangely unfamiliar picture emerges. While Lincoln personally disapproved of slavery in principle, he really had no interest or intention of taking any actions against it. The problems arose when he would have taken the choice of new states from deciding whether they would be free or slave, ergo, denying States Rights, the TRUE reason for the War.

    Another strangely unfamiliar image of Lincoln comes into the light with further reading. The image of a white supremest who had no desire to have Negros in his country and even had feasibility studies conducted to send all the Negros in America "back to Africa."

    Personally, I would have to say, do say, Jefferson Davis comes out far better in any TRUE comparisons of the two men. I promise you, Davis had far more respect for the Constitution than Lincoln ever did. (Remember- Lincoln was even censured by the US Congress for Constitutional violations even if only when he stepped on THEIR toes.

    Enough. Sorry this was long but, I think it was necessary to get out the whole picture.

  8. Well said, Jim. Thanks for that quote. Yes, Lincoln didn't start pretending the war was about slavery until later in the war, mainly to suppress British support for the Confederacy. Lincoln was a hypocrite and a fraud.

  9. Thanks. What's really ironic is that Lincoln goes down in history as the most popular president with a big statue for something he didn't do. But, the reality is the the slaves were actually freed by a Southerner and perhaps our most despised president- Lincoln's former VP Andrew Johnston.

    On that note, ever read the 13th Amendment? It purports to "abolish slavery" but, BUT! There is in it an 'exception.' The government retained the right to enslave unto itself! Here tis (I added the emphasis)...

    [quote]Amendment XIII
    Section 1.
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    Section 2.
    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[end-quote]

    Look beyond it and nothing later counters that "except." One might argue it's canceled out as being "cruel & unusual." but, I have no doubt the major media could sell the idea that it wasn't- perhaps arguing it as more human than the death penalty say...

    Food for thought?

  10. If it's an old forgery then it's a very old one. It's in the Broadsides collection of the Jefferson Davis papers at Washington and Lee University and in the Library of Congress. And it's listed on bibilographic histories of the war from 1903 and probably earlier.

  11. Elrod, yes, the forgery came out immediately after the Emancipation Proclamation, so it is as old as that. As for the sources you cited, you are confusing Davis's actual statement released on January 5, 1863, which does not resemble the forgery.