Hate for Confederacy didn’t ensure love for Union

“In North Carolina there is a great deal of something that calls itself Unionism; but… it is a cheat, a Will-o’-the-wisp; and any man who trusts it will meet with overthrow.

“Its quality is shown in a hundred ways. An old farmer came into Raleigh to sell a little corn. I had some talk with him. He claimed that he had been a Union man from the beginning of the war, but he refused to take ‘greenback money’ for his corn. In a town in the western part of the State I found a merchant who prided himself on the fact that he had always prophesied the downfall of the so-called Confederacy and had always desired the success of the Union arms; yet when I asked him why he did not vote in the election for delegates to the Convention, he answered, sneeringly — ‘I shall not vote till you take away the military.’

“The State Convention declared by a vote of 94 to 19 that the Secession ordinance had always been null and void; and then faced squarely about, and, before the Presidential instructions were received, impliedly declared, by a vote of fifty-seven to fifty-three, in favor of paying the war debt incurred in supporting that ordinance! This action on these two points exactly exemplifies the quality of North Carolina Unionism. There may be in it the seed of loyalty, but woe to him who mistakes the germ for the ripened fruit!”

— From “Three Months Among the Reconstructionists” by Sidney Andrews in The Atlantic (February 1866)

Andrews was among the most acerbic of Northern reporters visiting postbellum North Carolina. Here’s how he viewed  “the native North Carolinian.”

 

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