William Lowndes Yancey and the coming of the Civil War Eric H. Walther Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xi, 477 p. : ill., ports. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. -459) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
In the first comprehensive biography of William Lowndes Yancey (1814-63), one of the leading secessionists of the Old South, Walther examines the personality and political life of the uncompromising orator.
The Confederate leaders are portrayed as a band of competing opportunists led by South Carolina governor and secessionist Francis Pickens (far left). The artist criticizes the January 1861 secession of five states from the lower South, following the lead of South Carolina, which had formally declared its independence a month before. Armed with a whip and a pistol, Pickens sits on the back of a young slave, pronouncing, “South Carolina claims to be file leader and general whipper in of the new Confederacy, a special edict! Obey and tremble!” The other leaders are also armed. Pickens’s tyranny is met by expressions of self-interest from the other confederates. The nature of these individual interests are conveyed pictorially and in the text. Leaders from Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia sit on bales of cotton, while Florida and Louisiana sit on a wrecked ship’s hull and a barrel of sugar respectively. Florida (represented by a bearded man, possibly Stephen R. Mallory, senator and later secretary of the Confederate navy ): “We want it distinctly understood that all the lights on the Coast will be put out, in order to facilitate wrecking business.” Alabama (William L. Yancey): “Alabama proclaims that C̀otton is King,’ and the rest of the Confederacy “must obey” that Sovereign. Mississippi (Jefferson Davis): “We came in, with the understanding that we shall issue bonds to an unlimited extent, with our ancient right of repudiation when they became due.” Georgia (Governor Joseph E. Brown): “Georgia must have half the honors, and all the profits, or back she goes to old Pluribus Unum.'” Louisiana (a mustachioed man): “A heavy duty must be levied on foreign sweetening in order to make up for what we have sacrificed in leaving the Union, otherwise we shall be like a P̀elican in the wilderness!'” Although Texas, which seceded on February 1, is not represented here, the print probably appeared at the time of the Montgomery convention in early February when the Confederate States of America was formed, but before Jefferson Davis assumed its presidency. Texas did not attend that convention.
Born in Georgia but raised in the North by a fiercely abolitionist stepfather and an emotionally unstable mother, Yancey grew up seeing how the abolitionists were cruel, meddling, and hypocritical. His personal journey led him through a series of mentors who transformed his political views, and upon moving to frontier Alabama in his twenties, Yancey’s penchant for rhetoric was soon channeled into a crusade to protect slaveholders’ rights.
Print shows a crowd gathered in front of the capitol building at Montgomery, Alabama, at the time of the announcement of Jefferson Davis as the first President of the Confederate States of America; also shown with Davis are “Alex. H. Stephens, Vice-President, Wm. L. Yancey, Leader of the Secession Party, [and] Howell Cobb, President of the Senate.”
Yancey defied Northern Democrats
at their national nominating convention in 1860, rending the party and setting the stage for secession after the election of Abraham Lincoln. Selected to introduce Jefferson Davis
in Montgomery as the president-elect of the Confederacy
, Yancey also served the Confederacy as a diplomat and a senator before his death in 1863, just short of his forty-ninth birthday.
A vindictive Northern fantasy on the aftermath of the Civil War. Confederate president Jefferson Davis, dressed in a hoopskirt or crinoline, hangs from a “Sour Apple Tree” at left, a Bowie knife in one hand and a torn flag in the other. (For Davis’s costume, see “The Chas-ed “Old Lady” of the C.S.A.,” no. 1865-11; for the “sour apple tree,” see “John Brown Exhibiting His Hangman,” no. 1865-16.) Beneath Davis is an open grave from which peers the devil. At right nooses are suspended over the heads of several “Confederate Mourners” (left to right): Gen. Robert E. Lee, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of State and War Judah P. Benjamin, one of the Southern “Fire-eaters” and member of the Confederate Senate William Lowndes Yancey, Georgian Robert A. Toombs, and Louis T. Wigfall. Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth (far right) rushes to join the group. On the ground lie copperheads (symbols of Peace Democrats), skulls, and broken artillery. The infamous Confederate prisons, Libby and Andersonville, can be seen in the distance. In the upper register the blindfolded figure of Justice, holding a sword and scales, is enthroned on a bank of clouds. At left Liberty sits beside an urn partially covered by the Union flag. An eagle is beside her. A grieving soldier and sailor attend the urn, while a slave man, his wife, and child look toward the far right, where the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln is escorted heavenward by angels.
More than a portrait of an influential political figure before and during the Civil War, this study also presents a nuanced look at the roots of Southern honor and understandings of manhood as they developed in the nineteenth century.