A Short History of the War
for Southern Independence,
Illustrated by
Southern Currency and Bonds

John Remington Graham, B. A., LL. B., of the Minnesota Bar

(Posted November 7, 2012)


        The aspirations and character of a civilization are etched on the face of its money. The pieces of wartime currency of the Southern States and currency and bonds of the Confederate States discussed in this essay were acquired slowly over some years as opportunity allowed, with an eye more for historical meaning than numismatic interest. They illustrate a beautiful but melancholy story of a nation which has since disappeared in the mists of time past.

        The items listed hereinafter are each identified by year of issue, government authorizing emission, denomination, Criswell or other numismatic identification number or numbers associated with a particular item, Confederate currency type where appropriate, and condition based on conventional guidelines. They can be accessed by clicking on the associated language or symbols in colored, underlined font. They appear at less than actual size, but images can, where necessary, be adjusted for convenience of the viewer. When viewing of any particular item or items is completed, press the “return” arrow (< =) on the upper left in order to restore the text where reading left off.

        We can start with earlier issues. The currency issued during the months following formation of the Confederate States stressed themes of peace and prosperity. The three pieces here shown were part of a third emission which appeared during the hopeful period following the victory on the field at First Manassas. Most Southerners then felt a false anticipation that all would soon return to normalcy, peace, and prosperity. 

        Interestingly enough, there was no uniform Confederate currency when the war broke out, and the three pieces here shown were printed by three different companies on contract with the Confederate government. We begin with 

1861 CSA $5.00 Cr. 274-78 (T-36) VF

        The central feature of this Confederate treasury note is Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture, emphasizing agriculture as the chief source of Southern wealth. And now:

1861 CSA $20.00 Cr. 101-34 (T-18) F+

        The central feature of this Confederate treasury note is a sailing vessel, signifying the shipping of cotton to Europe, on which the value of Southern currency depended. On the lower left is a sailor, corresponding to the sailor on the lower left of the $5.00 treasury note (T-36). And another specimen: 

1861 CSA $20.00 Cr. 139-43 (T-20) VF

        The central feature of this treasury note is an idyllic scene with a mythological, cupid-like figure holding a symbol of health and a wreath of flowers, a woman reclining in ease, and a beehive, all signs of peace and prosperity. Off to the lower left is Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, who had opposed the secession of his native Georgia in his famous “Union” speech before the legislature of his State shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860. A cordial correspondence ensued between Stephens and Lincoln.

        In his masterful “Union” speech Stephens affirmed the constitutional right of a State to secede from the Union, which was clearly elaborated in debates and documents of the formative history of the United States. Before 1860 this important right had been expounded in the treatises of constitutional lawyers both in the North and in the South. But Stephens argued that there was no urgent need for secession. Illustrating his point, he explained that, under an act of Congress passed in 1857, there were no protective tariffs on the books, and that the Southern States had sufficient power in Congress, including political allies from the Northern States, especially in the United States Senate, to prevent oppressive legislation against their interests within the Union, either regarding tariffs or any other question. 

        Stephens also feared the destructive impact of war which he saw under the circumstances as likely to follow secession. He had opposed the irresponsible hot-head walkouts of Southern delegations from the conventions of the Democratic Party in Charleston and Baltimore in 1860. Ever a political realist, he had supported Stephen Douglas for President. No doubt, had the Southern delegations displayed patriotic shrewdness, John Breckinridge would have been the Democratic candidate for Vice President, who was in 1860 already Vice President under James Buchanan. It was not unprecedented for the same individual to serve as Vice President under two succeeding Presidents, for John Calhoun had thus served under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. If the Democrats had nominated such a unified ticket, Lincoln probably could have been defeated by Douglas who then would have become President in early 1861. Douglas died unexpectedly in early June of that year, so Breckinridge would have served out the bulk of Douglas’ term, as John Tyler had done following the death of William Henry Harrison. 

        Breckinridge would surely have been a monumental President. If anybody in the country could have reconciled the North and the South, it would have been Breckinridge. He would have facilitated the building of grand transcontinental railroads along northern, central, and southern routes for a small fraction of the cost of the war which was triggered when Lincoln became President. He would have helped nudge slavery into extinction with the cooperation of Southerners themselves. In consequence of his leadership, both regions of the country would have become more prosperous than ever. American civilization would have flourished. 

        But let it be supposed that reconciliation between the North and the South in the same Union could not have been accomplished by statesmanship and compromise. The Union reestablished in 1789 had never been designed by the founding fathers of the United States to last forever. During the proceedings of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, as actually appears in the records of their deliberations, the framers had anticipated that, in less than 150 years of their deliberations, the Union would exceed optimum size, and break up. The constitutional processes designed by the Philadelphia Convention could have been used in 1860-1861 to allow peaceful formation of neighboring confederacies, each preserving its own traditions, -- each interacting by treaties of peace, commerce, and alliance with the other, very much as do Canada and the United States at our time in history. If such an arrangement had been established, power would be more gracefully distributed across North America today. 

        In his “Union” speech, Stephens urged his fellow citizens in Georgia not to act with haste. He thought that, before attempting secession as an ultimate remedy, the Southern States should send delegates to meet in a convention not unlike the Hartford Convention in New England which considered secession as an option, but took a more moderate course which forced an end to the War of 1812. He wanted the Southern States to meet in such a convention, and there to discuss and implement a united course of action. Withdrawal from the Union was not motivated by principled grievances so much as a need for refuge from sectional differences which had become too heated. When Georgia withdrew from the Union against his urgings, Stephens obediently followed his State, which course he considered a patriotic duty. Yet, he was so much admired that he was elected Vice President of the Confederate States, notwithstanding his opposition to secession. 

        It was believed by most Southerners as their States seceded that, if it came to war, there would be a few battles on the field of honor which they would win, whereupon the opinion of the civilized world would concede their independence. But they were generally unable to appreciate how there could be an extended war merely because they peaceably exercised their constitutional rights. As plainly understood by the framers in the Philadelphia Convention, Congress had no power to make anything but gold or silver coin a legal tender for all debts public and private. If the people of the Northern States had been obliged to pay for the war in specie raised mainly by taxes, or borrowing from willing lenders at affordable interest, the conquest of the Southern States would have been financially impossible. If the authentic constitutional order of the United States had been maintained, it would have been unlawful even to make the attempt. And many newspapers, lawyers, and citizens in the Northern States conceded the constitutional prerogative of the Southern States to withdraw from the Union. They regretted the event, but would not destroy American legal heritage and spill fraternal blood to prevent it.

        General Winfield Scott, then commanding the armies of the Union, and a seasoned veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, solemnly warned Lincoln, after taking office, not to reinforce Fort Sumter, which was indefensible in any event. General Scott urged the new President to withdraw the Federal garrison stationed there. Lincoln was expertly informed that, if the installation in the harbor of Charleston were maintained, war would be unavoidable, leading to general hostilities which would be longer, bloodier, and costlier than could possibly be imagined. Although his cabinet initially sided with General Scott, Republican governors and newspaper editors pressured the new President and his administration. Lincoln sent a squadron to Charleston in a military feint. In this exceedingly tense situation Jefferson Davis, provisional President of the Confederate States, ordered surgical reduction of the fort before landing of Federal troops might create greater danger. Yet he had been previously warned by Robert Toombs, his secretary of state, that such an act would deprive the South of all her friends in the North, and be, as he put it, fatal. A battle ensued, igniting a fraternal conflict which, in due course, multiplied the national debt many times, resulted in stupendous casualties, induced mass starvation of slaves, and destroyed American constitutional order. 

        Southerners generally had no idea that the war thus fatefully launched would be financed mainly on the sale of war bonds for ample specie to great banking houses in Europe and their American affiliates and clients. They did not know that financiers behind these powerful institutions had engineered a series of provocations during the 1850s to create ill-feeling between the modern industrial civilization in the Northern States and the quasi-feudal agricultural civilization in the Southern States. And they had no idea that these banking houses would be able by corrupt influence to convert their war bonds into an obligatory capital basis of a new and dominant system of banking and currency centered on Wall Street, as they did under the National Bank Act of 1864 and related legislation, then eventually to become enthroned under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and its subsequent amendments. The principal consequence of the war was loss of the monetary independence of the United States and the emergence of a hidden government of high finance which, by its ability to expand or contract our supply of money and credit, by control of the mainstream news media, and by use of large tax-exempt foundations dictating educational agendas in colleges and universities, has effectively ruled the United States ever since from behind the scenes. The successors in interest to the banking cartel on Wall Street which financed the American Civil War, and their international associates, are today seeking to bankrupt the United States, and to establish a one-world government under their direction from behind the scenes, reducing mankind to their mastery. Their plans may eventually fail, but they are now hard at work to accomplish their ends. In the whole history of mankind, there has never been a more dangerous conspiracy.

        It is noteworthy too that Confederate currency issued early in the war promised payment in specie six months after a conclusion of peace with the United States, and included express notice that it was receivable in payment of all dues to the Confederate States, except export duties allowed under the provisional constitution of the Confederate States, and also under the permanent constitution but upon vote of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. The currency of 1861 also gave notice that it could be converted into bonds of the Confederate States, bearing simple interest at 8%. It was believed that currency, not in itself a legal tender for all debts public and private, would circulate better if it could be invested in government-guaranteed, interest-bearing securities. Confederate currency was never made legal tender for all debts public and private, because it was held by most knowledgeable Southerners that the intended meaning of the United States Constitution on the power of Congress to coin money was limited to gold and silver coin, and carried over to the Confederate States Constitution. In the Southern States during the war, there never were anything like “greenbacks,” or treasury notes designated legal tender by statutory fiat as was ordained by the Currency Acts of 1862 and 1863 passed by the Congress of the United States. These “greenbacks” were among many other injuries to constitutional government at the time. As the war progressed, Southerners accepted these so-called “Yankee dollars” in lieu of more rapidly inflating Confederate currency.

        At this point, some attention should be given to bonds authorized by act of the Confederate Congress in 1861, of which four specimens are here included: 

Cr. 63
Cr. 65
Cr. 70
Cr. 101

        These bonds, bearing simple interest at 8%, were issued pursuant to legislation passed during the dreamy days following First Manassas, when it was still hoped by many Southerners that the nations of Europe, and even civilized consensus in the Northern States, would recognize the Confederate States. Heavy taxes were out of the question, lest ardor for the cause be dampened too quickly, so borrowing was then the only feasible method of acquiring a significant supply of specie to fund currency. All such bonds were personally signed by a Confederate treasury officer Robert Tyler, son of former President John Tyler who had presided over the peace convention of twenty-one States, summoned by the legislature of Virginia, and meeting in Washington D. C. in early 1861. The peace convention had labored while Southern delegates met in Montgomery, Alabama, to establish a provisional government for then seven Confederate States. The peace convention had worked tirelessly to settle the troubles of the Union before Lincoln was sworn in as President.Lincoln was less prepared for the burden than any of his predecessors had ever been, and in only thirty-nine days he bungled into the worst war ever fought in North America.

        At the time these bonds were issued, there was a proposal afoot that the Confederate government should purchase the huge crop of cotton then growing on Southern soil at 10¢ per pound, using long-term bonds such as these specimens, then ship the cotton so acquired to Europe in 1861-1862 before the Union blockade of Southern ports could become effective, sell the cotton thus shipped at 20, 30, even 50¢ per pound due to anticipated war-related shortages in Europe, and thereby establish substantial credits in specie-paying institutions in London and Paris. With these credits, the Confederate States could have bought powerful iron-clad warships in Europe, and used them to break the Union blockade and keep commerce open, thereby providing Southern armies with weapons and supplies needed to achieve independence on the battlefield. This plan was favored by General Joseph E. Johnston and certain key Southern statesmen, including Judah Benjamin, who served at first as attorney general, then for several months as secretary of war, and finally as secretary of state, and especially Vice President Alexander Stephens. 

        The bond maturing in the amount of $500.00 in 1873 features Stephen Mallory, who before the war had been a United States Senator from Florida. Because of his service as chairman of the naval affairs committee in the United States Senate, he became secretary of the navy for the Confederate States, remaining in that position throughout the war. The portrait of Mallory is embellished with idyllic female figures who symbolize law, government, and stability. Mallory was exceedingly ingenious, building a navy from nothing. He caused iron-clad ships to be built domestically in hopes of breaking the blockade, and he secured English-built raiders on the high seas to injure the commerce of the Union, seeking thereby to draw Union warships away from the blockade. Although at points he came breathtakingly close to success, he lacked the resources needed to achieve his objectives.

        The bond maturing in the amount of $500.00 in 1875 features Judah Benjamin, a lawyer who had served as United States Senator from Louisiana. After the fall of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia, in 1865, Benjamin escaped to England where he became a member of the bar. He rose to prominent standing in London. He was Jewish, brilliant as a legal mind and shrewd as a politician. It is likely that he was able to recover his career abroad after the war on account of favors from Sir Nathan Mayer, created by Queen Victoria as Baron Rothschild, the first Jewish peer in Great Britain. 

        The bond maturing in the amount of $500.00 in 1878 features, once again, Alexander Stephens, who had served before the war for many years as a Congressman from Georgia. His awareness of the need for substantial credits in specie-paying institutions of Europe, based on sales of cotton purchased with Confederate bonds, was typical of his remarkable vision as a Southern statesman. Appropriately, this bond is decorated with the cotton plant, the “white gold” of the Old South which Stephens urgently wanted to be shipped in large quantities to Europe during the first year of the war. 

        The plan to purchase cotton with Confederate bonds, and then resell it at a significant profit in Europe, was never implemented, because President Jefferson Davis and his circle believed that an embargo on trading cotton would be the most effective way to induce recognition of Southern independence by the nations of Europe. Though only informal and not declared, this policy deprived the Confederate States of their last chance to secure adequate specie-denominated credits abroad before the blockade on Southern ports became effective by the spring of 1862 

        The bond maturing in the amount of $1000.00 payable in 1880 is decorated with symbols of tobacco and other agricultural produce, and features John H. Reagan, a lawyer from Texas who had served as a state district judge and a member of Congress before the war, then served as postmaster general of the Confederate States throughout the war. Under the most difficult circumstances imaginable, he ran an efficient postal service which paid for itself and turned a modest profit. He was the last cabinet member to remain with Jefferson Davis after the fall of Richmond, and was with him at the time of his capture near Irwinville, Georgia, in the spring of 1865. At the time, Reagan was attempting to escort Davis out of the country, and thereby to avoid his apprehension for fear that Davis would be tried and hanged for treason as a public humiliation of the defeated South. After the war, Judge Reagan returned to Texas, again took up the practice of law, and was eventually reelected to his old seat in the United States House of Representatives, then was elected by the legislature of Texas to the United States Senate where he served with distinction. 

        A charming feature of Confederate bonds is the attached coupons which were verified against counterfeiting by a clerk in the treasury office. The coupons were clipped off when interest was paid, and so most of these instruments have some coupons removed, but still attached to these specimens are all coupons not paid following the surrender of all Confederate land and naval forces and dissolution of the Confederate government. These remaining coupons are the mortal remains of a nation now extinct. 

        In order to purchase supplies or raise revenue, the Confederate government issued hand-dated treasury notes, from early May 1862 through early January 1863 as part of a fourth emission of currency, each in the amount of $100.00, promising to pay specie six months after the conclusion of hostilities by treaty of peace, together with interest at 2¢ per day, or about 7.3% annually, and were receivable in payment of most public dues to the Confederate government. The payment of interest was typically indicated on the reverse side by stamp specifying place and date. These so-called 730s include: 

1862 CSA $100.00
Cr. 290-96
1862 CSA $100.00
Cr. 298
1862 CSA $100.00
Cr. 315-29

        The first two of these instruments feature a railroad engine and cars, with a blockade-running steamship in the background, stressing economic prosperity which Southern independence was then said to promise. Off to the lower left is a milk maid, a popular symbol of the dreamy culture of the Old South, soon to disappear into the sentimental past. These instruments were separately engraved, perhaps to prevent overworking of plate, or maybe to assure a steady supply of notes while companies changed location, thus showing slight differences in design. On the earlier variety (T-39) the central illustration shows the steam from the railroad engine shooting straight up and has broader borders, but on the other (T-40) the central illustration shows the steam defused and has more restricted borders.

        A third variety of the same currency (T-41) features slaves hoeing a field in preparation for the planting of cotton. Slaves were serfs in the quasi-feudal society of the Old South. Slavery, as it was called, lasted about 250 years in North America, as compared with villeinage in England by which white Anglo-Saxon laborers were held in involuntary servitude under the feudal system from the Norman Conquest over the next 500 years before it became extinct. Slavery was the means which enabled black Africans retarded in social development to adapt to the more advanced civilization then prevailing in North America. They were retarded in social development, not on account of race, but from historical circumstances which were similar to the conditions prevailing in Europe after the fall of the West Roman Empire, causing white nations to pass through a semi-barbaric condition during what is now called the Dark Ages. These black Africans were sold by their own kind as prisoners of war to white merchants from Great Britain and New England, and shipped across the Atlantic. The importations began in the early 17th Century not long after the founding of Jamestown, but were most extensive during the 18th Century up to the time of the American Revolution. This traffic was allowed for twenty years under the United States Constitution, then was prohibited by Congress. Under the provisional and permanent constitutions of the Confederate States it was altogether disallowed.

        The “peculiar institution” of the Old South was destined to pass away as the work of tutelage reached natural completion over time, especially in view of the fact that in 1860 geography firmly excluded slavery from the Federal territories where there were only seventeen slaves, two in Kansas which entered the Union without slavery the next year, and none in any of the territories later claimed by the Confederate States. And advances in agricultural technology were quickly making slavery obsolete everywhere.

        It is a reality frequently overlooked that the only large, authentic, and prestigious anti-slavery movement during the antebellum period was in the Southern States, and included, not to mention many of their most illustrious citizens, General Robert E. Lee, who was known as “Marse Robert,” as was a customary way for slaves to address their masters: he became the legal owner and master of about three hundred slaves when he served as executor of the estate of his father-in-law, and, as such, diligently carried out his responsibility under the will of emancipating them all. Lee was known to favor emancipation of slaves throughout the South as rapidly as it could be humanely accomplished. He was much beloved by his Southern countrymen because of his sentiments on this question, as is recounted in the war diary of J. B. Jones. If the South had won independence and he had lived long enough, General Lee would certainly have become the second President of the Confederate States, in which capacity he would have worked for the abolition of slavery throughout his country. But like other Southern abolitionists, he knew that it was not sufficient to declare a man free without enabling him to find gainful work and otherwise adapt to his new condition of freedom, all of which took tact, skill, time, and patience.

        It is true that slaves belonged to their masters, but not less true that masters belonged to their slaves. And slaves in the Southern States were better off than the peasantry then living in any part of the world and certainly happier, notwithstanding howls and groans of those whose objective was to deceive fine young men in the Northern States into fighting battles better described as murder not war. The same propaganda is perpetuated as political correctness in our own time to sustain a distraction from, and thereby to conceal the mercenary purposes of high finance as foreseen in the novels of the Southern writer J. B. Jones before the war, then analyzed more acutely at the time by the Iowa copperhead Democrat lawyer Henry Clay Dean, and viewed in retrospect by the cosmopolitan economist Alexander Del Mar and the insurgent Republican and populist Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. of Minnesota.

        Off to the lower left of this note (T-41) is a portrait of John Calhoun, the unsurpassed political philosopher of the Old South whose magnum opus, called a “disquisition on government,” was completed at the end of his life, published posthumously, and highly regarded by the famous British historian Lord Acton. There Calhoun expounded constitutional government as a universal principle, and reprobated government by absolute majority. A proper constitution, he said, allows to each interest making a major contribution to defense and prosperity of the country an effective veto or brake on the operations of government. Notwithstanding superficial appearances to the contrary, Calhoun argued, such a system works by operation of moral causes, because man naturally seeks promote his own best interests and survival, and so, if given the opportunity, cooperates to produce meaningful compromise with other interests for the general good of society. In this way abuse of power can be prevented and progress made. But government by absolute majority, Calhoun argued, leads to consolidation of power which destroys freedom, harmony, patriotism, and creativity in human endeavor. In this view of things, interposition, nullification, and secession are essential to a successful confederacy, as became the credo of the Old South.

        Under the United States Constitution, the several States are prohibited from making anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts, and from emitting bills of credit. During the antebellum period, there was legal controversy over what circulating paper amounted to bills of credit which the several States were prohibited from emitting. Some maintained that bills of credit included circulating notes promising to pay specie at a future day, even if not meanwhile made legal tender in general commerce, and receivable only for taxes and other public dues to the governments authorizing emission. Others claimed that such circulating notes were prohibited bills of credit only if made legal tender for all debts public and private. The courts of the Union had held both ways during the antebellum period. When the Confederate States Constitution was framed, the United States Constitution was generally followed, but certain changes were inserted to meet with exigencies of the times. It was known that the war would have to be financed with treasury notes emitted both by the Confederacy and by the several States, very much as the Continental Congress and the several States had done during the American Revolution. Lest any question remain, the permanent constitution of the Southern Confederacy eliminated the prohibition of bills of credit emitted by the States.

        Hence, we find a large variety of treasury notes emitted by the Southern States during the war, receivable for taxes levied by those States, but otherwise not legal tender. South Carolina was unique insofar as she did not merely issue treasury notes, but established a state bank which acted as a public monetary authority. Two notes of this state bank are here featured, for which there are no Criswell numbers, hence they are designated by Slabaugh numbers: 

1862 SC $1.00 Sl. 545 F+
1862 SC $2.00 Sl. 556 F+

        The $1.00 note portrays a bust of John Calhoun, and slaves unloading cargo in the harbor in Charleston for transportation on sailing ships to Europe. The central illustration of the $2.00 note is the statehouse in Columbia first occupied in 1790; on the lower left is a portrait of Robert Hayne, and on the lower right is a portrait of John Calhoun. These two great sons of South Carolina were famous statesmen and philosophers of the Old South, who distinguished themselves in their encounters with Daniel Webster in the United States Senate. 

        In 1830 Webster and Hayne debated the nature of the Union in a series of speeches back and forth, ignited by a seemingly harmless resolution on the sale of western lands held by the Federal government. Hayne complained of abusive use of tariffs protective of industry in New England and New York at the expense of the Southern States. He supported the resolution of the legislature of South Carolina in 1828, interposing protest against the so-called “tariff of abominations” as oppressive, unconstitutional, and unjust, thus setting the stage for nullification and secession if the situation were not remedied, and thus echoing similar resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky in 1798, which likewise had practiced interposition against the Alien and Sedition Acts. Speaking of a reality then existing, but hardly conceivable in our time of history, Hayne defended slavery as a humanitarian responsibility of the white race for the protection of the black race who were being prepared for, but were not then ready for freedom in North America. He compared the good condition of Southern slaves to the miserable poverty and suffering of black freedmen in Northern cities, and the economic utility of the institution which had helped produce the greater share of American exports in international commerce. He warned against exaggerating the importance of the Union, and even of the need to prevent an excessive Federal treasury, for he saw the perennial danger that the general government would encroach upon the rights of the States indispensable as a constitutional shield of human freedom. Webster’s reply to Hayne is thought by many to be one of the most sublime political orations of all time, wherein he condemned as delusion and folly the motto “Liberty first and Union afterwards,” but extolled another sentiment which he claimed was dear to every true American heart, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” In truth, Webster’s reply was richer in eloquence than reason, yet never lived a finer lawyer and patriot.

        In 1833 Calhoun, having resigned as Vice President of the United States, returned as senator from South Carolina to defend his State which, carrying through from interposition of her legislature, had assembled her people in convention who, speaking in the unanswerable voice of sovereign power, had nullified protective tariffs enacted by Congress in 1828 and 1832, and threatened secession if these unconstitutional statutes were not repealed. Then and there occurred a debate between Webster and Calhoun, one of the most brilliant oratorical exchanges in Anglo-American history. Following Hayne in drawing from the resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky in 1798, Calhoun proposed that the Union is a compact among the States, each acting by her people in convention as a sovereign power, each reserving unto herself, through her people in convention, the ultimate authority of temporal law, including the right to adjudge infractions of the compact, as well as the mode and measure of redress. Webster contended that the Union is not a compact but the result of a compact, as such a government proper of the whole country, and that, consequently, nullification and secession are a legal solecism, an invitation to anarchy and revolution. Calhoun replied that nullification and secession are orderly, constitutional remedies rooted in legal tradition, and designed to counteract particularly dangerous usurpations of Federal power which judicial authority cannot in the nature of things correct, and to prevent the kinds of injustice which give rise to anarchy and revolution. 

        The statesmanship of Henry Clay produced an acceptable compromise tariff. Out of this debate mutual admiration and honest friendship grew between Webster and Calhoun. Some years later, Calhoun, Webster, and Clay, each in his own way, played critical roles in producing the Compromise of 1850, which, left alone, would have reconciled the Northern and Southern States and saved the Union while allowing slavery to become obsolete and then pass into the mists of time. But, sad to say, these three American titans soon died and the compromise they engineered was destroyed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Webster would have wept to see the ruin of the Compromise of 1850, for which he had sacrificed his political standing among his own constituents in his immortal “7th of March” speech, wherein thrillingly he proclaimed, “I speak today for the preservation of the Union. Hear me for my cause.”

        The wartime currency emitted by the governments of the Southern States was sometimes crude in design, but a marked contrast appears in the treasury notes emitted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, which were particularly impressive, colorful, artistic, and tasteful. Here are several specimens of this beautiful currency: 

Cr. 18
Cr. 13
Cr. 8
Cr. 7
Cr. 6

        The treasury note in the amount of $1.00 features a milk maid in the center, with a river boat in the background, symbolizing prosperous agriculture. Off to the left is John Letcher, governor of Virginia at the time of secession, an honorable and good man, known to have been lukewarm about withdrawal of the Old Dominion from the Union, yet firm in devotion to the Southern cause. The several varieties of this note are distinguished by date. 

        The treasury note in the amount of $5.00 features Jonathan Bennett, auditor of the Commonwealth. In those days, all currency was registered and signed by hand as a safeguard against counterfeiting. Bennett or members of his office signed all treasury notes. Off to the right is a feminine personification of virtue wearing armor, carrying a sword, and standing by a slain tyrant, as depicted in the great seal and flag of Virginia along with the Latin motto “Sic semper tyrannis,” -- thus always is the fate of tyrants.

        The treasury note in the amount of $10.00 again features Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture, in the center. Off to the lower right is John Floyd, governor of Virginia who called for legislation to quicken progress in abolishing slavery. Historic debates followed before the Virginia House of Delegates in 1832. The speeches were reported in the press at the time, and provide a wealth of information about the empirical conditions of slavery. Among the legislative leaders seeking measures to phase out the institution were Thomas Jefferson Randolph, nephew of Thomas Jefferson who had fathered the Southern abolition movement, and James McDowell who later served as governor of Virginia during the antebellum period. Giving encouragement to the Virginia abolitionists of 1832 was James Madison, then living at an advanced age in retirement at Montpelier. McDowell’s speech on the tenth day of debate condemned slavery on grounds that man is born to be free, and that the institution not only caused socio-economic congestions, but had a bad impact on public morals. Yet McDowell and other Virginia abolitionists made plain that slavery as practiced in the Old South was not cruel or oppressive. Southern slaves were better treated and compensated than free white labor during the industrial revolution then taking place in Europe and the Northern States. The House passed a resolution condemning slavery as a social evil, hoping the pave the way for future legislation. Further progress was not then forthcoming, because it was practically impossible to free slaves rapidly without causing more problems than emancipation might solve, and it was not clear how to proceed effectively and beneficially. 

        More slaves were freed during the antebellum period in the South than in the North, and many black freedmen in the Dixie States became enormously wealthy. In this respect the fratricidal conflict of 1861-1865 was a war of cultural misunderstanding. This point is stressed no less in the dissent of Justice Benjamin Curtis in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 19 Howard 393 at 564-633 (U. S. 1857), where he elaborated upon a large corpus of Southern jurisprudence on the liberation of slaves, built upon judgments of the King’s Bench going back to the Magna Carta of Henry III: every slave emancipated, Southern judges held, became a citizen, and every slave brought by his master to reside in territory where slavery was forbidden by law then and there became free.

        By the time this treasury note (Cr. 8) was printed, slavery was already a dying institution, becoming increasingly nominal year by year, and, if there had been no war, it would have disappeared naturally throughout the Southern States, probably no later than 1915. Off to the left is a workman and symbols of emerging industry, expressing a hope of economic changes which would eventually accommodate a new class of freedmen whose ancestors had been slaves. Southern whites generally favored gradual abolition of slavery. But they insisted on supervising the transition themselves. They looked contemptuously upon wild-eyed Northern anti-slavery demagogues who had no personal experience with slavery themselves, but believed the false melodrama of Harriet Beecher Stowe as if it were the truth when it fact it was fiction, -- a malicious smear against the Old South, financed by great banking houses to provoke war which could be used by them to gain control over banking and currency in the United States. 

        The treasury note in the amount of $50.00 features off to the left James Murray Mason, grandson of the immortal George Mason who had helped frame the United States Constitution but refused to sign it because the document did not do enough to phase out slavery, did not offer sufficient protections of the Southern States against exploitation by unjust commercial regulations imposed by the Union, and did not include a federal bill of rights. James Murray Mason had served before the war as a United States Senator from Virginia. He descended from cavaliers who had fought for Charles the First during the English Civil War. He had the honor of reading the last speech of then-dying John Calhoun on the floor of the United States Senate during the debate which led to the Compromise of 1850. When secession and war came, Mason became emissary of the Confederate States to Great Britain. He and John Slidell, emissary of the Confederate States to France, were captured by the Union navy aboard ship headed for Europe in late 1861. The incident might have triggered British and French military support of the South against Union. But Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, intervened by skillful rewriting of diplomatic correspondence, and Abraham Lincoln avoided trouble by releasing Mason and Slidell. Off to the lower right of this currency are three Southern women in finery, sitting aside a cornucopia, symbolizing peaceful prosperity, which was no longer a realistic hope. When this piece was put into circulation, New Orleans had fallen, and huge battles had been fought, including Shiloh, Seven Pines, the Seven Days around Richmond, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg, yielding enormous casualties which would have been inconceivable a year earlier. 

        The treasury note in the amount of $100.00 features an artistically improved portrait of Governor Letcher in the center. Off to the right is Pocahontas, the legendary Indian princess. Off to the left is a portrait of George Washington, who was more a mythological hero than a mere political leader in the eyes of the Southern people. His sober face appears on several Confederate treasury notes, and it is not surprising that he should likewise be honored on currency emitted by his native Virginia. An equestrian Washington in military uniform, directing operations on the field, is the central figure on the great seal of the Confederate States, featuring the Latin motto “Deo vindice” -- in the ablative absolute, meaning God our defender --, and used under the permanent constitution which was inaugurated in 1862, precisely to the day on the 130th anniversary of Washington’s birth.

        Virginia treasury notes promised payment in specie at some indefinite time in the future, pledged the faith of the Commonwealth, and were receivable in payment of all public dues to the Commonwealth.

        We come now to treasury notes emitted by the State of Louisiana: 

Cr. 10
Cr. 14
Cr. 11

        The treasury note issued in the amount of $5.00 in 1862 was emitted from the traditional capital of Baton Rouge, which eventually had to be abandoned by the secessionist government after the fall of New Orleans to Union forces in the spring of that year. This note is distinctive in that the obverse side portrays the South striking down the Union against a backdrop featuring a river boat. And notice the horizontal five on this note, called a “lazy five.” Off to the lower right is a mythological figure which symbolizes the Mississippi, father of waters, significant among other things in that the same figure is depicted as a giant marble statue in grand classical style, placed in quiet splendor in the entry hall of what once was the old state courthouse and now is the city hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Old man river” Mississippi rises in Lake Itasca and its tributaries in northern Minnesota and opens into the Gulf of Mexico in southern Louisiana. Off to the left is the mother pelican, feeding her young, the symbol of Louisiana, which is of interest in that Southerners have traditionally regarded their States as feminine, both figuratively and grammatically. 

        The two treasury notes dated 1863 were emitted by the secessionist government of Louisiana from the temporary civil war capital of Shreveport in the northwestern part of the State. The note issued from Shreveport in the amount of $5.00 is the counterpart of the note of the same denomination issued from Baton Rouge, and is in all respects identical, except for the absence of the “lazy five,” and the mention of the new capital. The note issued from Shreveport in the amount of $100.00 features the state capitol building proposed but never built by the secessionist government of the State, and in the upper left Thomas Overton Moore, the colorful secessionist governor of Louisiana, then on the lower right is Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, holding a shield with thirteen stars on a cross, symbolizing the Confederate States.

        These notes also feature fancy colored backs, in green for the notes emitted in the amount of $5.00, and light blue green for the note emitted in the amount of $100.00. In order to enhance their capacity to circulate, the legislature not only made these notes receivable for taxes and other dues to the State, but a good tender for purchase of lands owned by the State at values assessed by law. 

        The currency emitted by the State of Mississippi was typically crude in design, but printed in rich variety and color, as illustrated by the two specimens which are listed here: 

1862 MISS $10.00 Cr. 17A F+
1862 MISS $10.00 Cr. 30 XF

        The orange note emitted in 1862 in the amount of $10.00 (Cr. 17A), only days before the Battle of Shiloh, featuring the figure of justice off the to left and impressed with a green Roman numeral “X”, represents an attempt to give money a tangible basis in cotton in lieu of gold or silver, and meanwhile was accepted in payment of all taxes and other dues to the State. A war tax in kind was levied to obtain cotton, which the government of the State intended to sell at a significant profit over assessed values, and thereby secure proceeds for redemption of notes emitted with this prospect in mind, and at the same time to generate a profit to be used as public revenue. The plan failed with the fall of New Orleans in the spring of 1862, not long after Shiloh, and the tightening of the Union blockade. 

        The light green note emitted in 1862 in the amount of $10.00 (Cr. 30), while the Seven Days’ Battle Around Richmond was still underway, is impressed by a red Roman numeral “X”. The faith of the State is pledged, and these notes are made receivable for taxes and all public dues to the State, and also for bonds of the State, bearing simple interest at 8%. Railroads were a sensation of the day, and an engine and cars appearing on at the center signify invention and progress. A woman in finery is featured at the lower left, symbolizing abundance and wealth. Off to the lower right a lad holding wheat is pictured in time of good harvest.

        The currency emitted by the State of North Carolina includes specimens rich in legend and history:

1863 NC $1.00 Cr. 132 VF+
1863 NC $2.00 Cr. 131 VF
1863 NC $3.00 Cr. 125 XF
1863 NC $5.00 Cr. 124 UNC
1863 NC $50.00 Cr. 118 XF

        The first three of these notes, collectively depicting sedate symbols of industry, agriculture, government, law, and prosperity, illustrate currency in smaller denominations typically emitted by the Southern States during the war. North Carolina emitted many fractional notes, including paper nickels, dimes, and quarters. There actually were $3.00 bills in circulation in those days, these issued by public institutions and private banks across the country, although this denomination soon fell into disuse. The design of this particular note in the amount of $3.00 is impressive, featuring two stately women: the lady to the left holding a staff in one hand and the constitution in the other, while the lady on the right represents comfort and abundance as she sits at ease aside a cornucopia. These figures have traditionally appeared on the great seal of North Carolina, together with the Latin motto, “Esse quam videri,”-- probably best translated, To be rather than merely to appear just and upright.

          The $5.00 note stresses that it could be used to purchase bonds of the State, bearing 6% simple interest, in hopes of enhancing acceptance of this currency in commerce. The central illustration depicts a blockade runner, a fast steamer of a kind used to get through the Union blockade along the Southern coastline and bring back military and luxury items from Europe. The Confederate government had its own fleet of such ships which were used to import needed equipment for the armed forces, but many such vessels were owned by private companies which sailed at high risk when scarce goods could be resold at excellent profit during the war. Wilmington, North Carolina, was one of the most important blockade running ports in the Confederate States, and so remained until she fell to military assault by Union forces about ten weeks before Lee’s surrender. Blockade running was, in any event, a fabulous business, and one of the most important entrepreneurs was George Trenholm, financier and shipping magnate who was surely the prototype character later portrayed as Rhett Butler in the book and film entitled, Gone with the Wind. Trenholm was handsome and debonair, like Clark Gable in the film. He was one of the richest men in the South before and during the war. He took over as the second secretary of the treasury of the Confederate States in the summer of 1864, and served until ill-health obliged him to resign during the flight of the Confederate government after the fall of Richmond. He recovered much of his lost fortunes afterwards, and was relatively well fixed at the time of his death during the postbellum period.

      The $50.00 note features an heroic portrait of Zebulon Vance, decorated with military drums and battle flags. This remarkable fellow compares with Stephens and Breckinridge as among the finest Southern statesmen of his day. Before the war, Vance completed his university studies, was admitted to the bar, then served in the state legislature of North Carolina, then was elected to Congress. When the war came, he was commissioned as colonel of the gallant 26th North Carolina infantry regiment. Under Vance’s command, the regiment fought at the Seven Days around Richmond in the summer of 1862. In the fall of the same year Vance was elected governor of North Carolina, then was later reelected and so continued to serve until his arrest at war’s end. While Vance was governor, the 26th North Carolina was decimated at Gettysburg where over 700 of its 800 men fell. During the war, Vance worked to assure that the people of his State were not oppressed by the Confederate government in Richmond, and enjoyed their fair share of imports from blockade running through Wilmington. After the war, Vance was again elected governor of his State, and finished his career with exemplary service in the United States Senate. He died in office, useful to the last day of his life.

        Aside from the accomplishments in his career, which speak for themselves, Vance delivered an eloquent address in 1866 to the literary societies at the University of North Carolina on what he called “the duties of defeat.” Every patriotic Southerner should commit significant passages of this speech to memory, as with Lee’s farewell to his army, and key parts of the grand orations of Hayne and Calhoun on the nature of the Union. The former wartime governor surveyed the vast extent of the loss which the Old South had suffered, but mollified his assessment of the devastation with insight from episodes in history when human beings had recovered from even greater devastation. He portrayed the fortitude of men in battle, and praised it, but then sketched the character of the new hero in peace who leads his country from ruin to prosperity. The courage to rebuild ruins is in many ways more laudable, he said, than even the ultimate and patriotic sacrifice of life itself in time of war. He adjured his hearers to become loyal citizens, to give the new order imposed by the war a fair trial, and never to display unworthy sentiments or base passions. He emphasized the goodness of human nature which can build new friendships, even with old enemies. Over time, he assured us, the evils of conquest and destruction would pass away, be forgotten, and trouble us no more. He encouraged us to look upon the past and learn from it, yet he insisted on adaptation to present opportunities as they occur. He urged Southerners to examine their mistakes during the war, to identify them honestly, and to correct them, yet he warned them not to swallow false nostrums and thus to regret something other than their actual errors. He concluded his address with consolation, -- solemn pride over having served faithfully, which brings its own ample and quiet reward. 

        And here are specimens of currency emitted by the State of Alabama later in the war: 

1864 ALA $5.00 Cr. 15 XF
1864 ALA $10.00 Cr. 14 XF

        These notes were issued on the first day of 1864 to welcome the inauguration of Tom Watts as the new Governor of Alabama. Watts had been a successful antebellum lawyer and planter in Alabama. He helped form a regiment from his State, then served for about six months in 1863 as attorney general of the Confederate States, but came home to his native Alabama to serve her in time of agony and suffering as the war exacted its terrible price. The note emitted in the amount of $5.00 features slaves in a wheat field, supervised by an overseer. The note emitted in the amount of $10.00 features a portrait of Governor Watts, embellished by bolls of cotton, which offered financial hope to the Confederate States, but hope broken because it was not marketed in sufficient quantities before the Union blockade imposed a death grip upon the Old South. These Alabama notes are striking also in that, aside from being receivable in payment of public dues to the State, they offered redemption in Confederate currency, or in bonds of the State paying simple interest at 5%, at the option of the State. 

        As the awful burden of war made a mockery of the themes of peace and prosperity featured in its earlier currency and bonds, the Confederate government started to adopt new themes, emphasizing strength and power of government as needed to fight a long, terrible war. Gone were the quiet, gentle, mystical, graceful, happy days of the Old South. We see the new style currency in a firth emission at the end of 1862, and a similar sixth emission in the spring of 1863. Following are several specimens of this newer style of currency from the sixth emission:

1863 CSA $5.00 Cr. 450-64 (T-60) VF
1863 CSA $10.00 Cr. 429-43 (T-59) VF
1863 CSA $20.00 Cr. 418-28 (T-58) VF

        The striking feature of these three notes is that all idyllic pictures of the Old South are no longer present. Now we have the magnificent state capitols in Richmond, Columbia, and Nashville which are respectively featured on treasury notes of the Confederate States in the amounts of $5.00, $10.00, and $20.00. The architecture of these buildings, all of them erected in the 19th century, was lovely, contrasting with the suffocatingly ugly architecture of our own time, -- proof, among countless other unmistakable signs, that we are today living in a less cultivated civilization, despite our impressive technology. On the lower right of each note is the portrait of a high officer of government: on the note emitted in the amount of $5.00, Christopher Memminger, secretary of the treasury; on the note emitted in the amount of $10.00, R. M. T. Hunter, president pro tempore of the Confederate Senate; and on the note emitted in the amount of $20.00, again Alexander Stephens, Vice President.

        On the reverse side of each note is a fancy blue back, poor compensation for the casualties and suffering caused by the war. The note emitted in the amount of $20.00 was put into circulation shortly before the victory at Chancellorsville. The note emitted in the amount of $10.00 was put into circulation about the time of the defeat at Gettysburg. And the note emitted in the amount of $5.00 was put into circulation in early 1864, and was among the last treasury notes issued under the legislation enacted in the spring of 1863.

        This currency continued to remind bearers that it was receivable for all public dues to the Confederate States except export duties, fundable in Confederate bonds bearing simple interest at 8%, and payable in specie after the war, only the date for payment of specie was delayed two years instead of only six months after a treaty of peace with the United States. 

        During the period in which these three pieces were put into circulation, inflation had become a grave problem in the Southern States, for Confederate treasury notes then rose in Richmond from $5.00 to $21.00 in paper as against $1.00 in gold or silver coin, thus inflating over 400% during the course of less than a year. In order to combat inflation, the Confederate Congress passed legislation in the late winter of 1863 which aimed at soaking up excess treasury notes in circulation by selling short-term bonds bearing simple interest at 8% and maturing in 1868. It was an unsophisticated variation of what we today call open-market operations. An illustration of such Confederate bonds is: 

1863/1868  CSA $500.00 CR. 124 XF

        This bond, featuring a portrait of Christopher Memminger and agricultural produce, was intended to mature in only five years, whereas the bonds issued under previous legislation were meant to mature in twelve to twenty years. Notes issued in 1863 could be used to purchase bonds within a year after being put into circulation, otherwise the option was lost. The object was to encourage rapid purchase of these securities. Memminger wanted to tax excess notes out of circulation. He had gained his reputation in finance by his work as a lawyer before the war in litigation which obliged banks in South Carolina to keep their currency readily redeemable in gold and silver coin. It was a cruelty of fate that such a conservative monetarist had to serve as a secretary of treasury for the Confederate States, for he was obliged to preside over deliberate inflationary financing of the war, breaking every principle he knew.

        It was intended that bonds under the old legislation of 1861 should be paid off in specie, but these illusions were soon rudely broken by pitiful inability of the Confederate government to pay interest except in treasury notes. So paper bonds were sold for and paid off in paper as inflation far outpaced this ritual, and made it meaningless. Because the inflation was much higher than the interest on bonds, the attempt to curb inflation by the sale of such instruments failed. People used their excess treasury notes to buy tangibles, causing speculation to go wild, and prices to skyrocket. Weak currency induced growing inability to supply troops on the field, and was certainly a major cause for defeat in the War for Southern Independence. It was customary to fold bonds and keep them in safe places, but their value deteriorated quickly if left sitting, so the bonds or the coupons clipped from the bonds were sometimes circulated in lieu of treasury notes, thus adding further to the inflation which they had been designed to arrest. 

        The Congress in Richmond was finally reduced to passing legislation in early 1864, authorizing a seventh emission, and obliging bearers of old currency to take new currency in place the old at two dollars face value of the new for three dollars face value of the old, or to surrender the old currency for long-term bonds bearing simple interest at 4%. Most Southerners ignored this legislation, which explains why earlier issues of Confederate currency are still found by collectors, and there are not so many 4% certificates available to those who want them. Not surprisingly, therefore, this expedient to curb inflation failed as well, and was rapidly overwhelmed by the need to emit prodigious quantities of new currency to pay for the war as the tide turned depressingly against the South. Such financing of war by inflation caused the going rate for Confederate treasury notes to rise rapidly against specie, from $25.00 in paper to $1.00 in coin by the fall of Atlanta in the late summer of 1864, to $50.00 in paper to $1.00 in coin by the defeat at Nashville shortly before Christmas 1864, then to $100.00 in paper to $1.00 in coin at the collapse at Five Forks in the spring of 1865. It has been said that, within a few days after Lee’s surrender, one dollar in gold or silver coin fetched $6,000.00 in Confederate currency which was by then valuable mainly as war souvenirs for Union soldiers. 

        Confederate and Southern States’ currency and bonds have since developed value for collectors with increasing demand as years go by, especially for rarer items in better condition by numismatic standards. By illustration, the four notes in the first emission of Confederate currency from the original capital of Montgomery ordinarily cannot be acquired for any amount of money, and, when such a set in presentable condition can be purchased, the price can be measured in the cost of fine homes. So also there are pieces like the fabulous “Indian princess” note as hard to find as the proverbial “pearl of great price” in the Bible. Effort is now required to come across even more common varieties of Confederate and Southern paper. The supply of this material is not as great as once thought, because currency and bonds of the “lost cause” were considered worthless when the surrenders came, so much of it was destroyed. Even so, the primary worth of these items all along has been and remains sentimental. Viewed in this light, they have been and remain priceless, like grandmother’s silver or her wedding ring. They vibrate ethereal meaning from an age past, represent a dream broken but noble, and retell a story to appreciative hearts. 

        We can here view several specimens of Confederate treasury notes issued under the legislation enacted in early 1864, and furnishing the principal circulation to the end of the war:

1864 CSA $5.00 Cr. 558-565 (T-69) UNC
1864 CSA $10.00 Cr. 540-552 (T-68) XF
1864 CSA $20.00 Cr. 504-515 (T-67) XF
1864 CSA $50.00 Cr. 495-503 (T-66) UNC
1864 CSA $100.00 Cr. 490-494 (T-65) VF+

        It may be observed at the outset that this currency is generally of better quality in format and printing, including color on the obverse side, and new fancy blue backs on the reverse side. It is a more handsome currency than most previous issues of the Confederate States. These five pieces taken together are pleasing to behold. But during the period in which this currency was passed from hand to hand, Southern independence went through the throes of death. 

        All recitations that this currency was receivable in payment of dues to the Confederate government or fundable in Confederate bonds have disappeared. These treasury notes say only that they are payable, presumably in specie, two years after a treaty of peace with the United States, a promise hopelessly unrealistic in that, even if the South had won independence, partial repudiation of outstanding treasury notes, as with the continental currency of the American Revolution, would have been inevitable. 

        The treasury note emitted in the amount of $5.00 in 1864 (T-69) is virtually identical to its counterpart issued in 1863 (T-60), except for the brownish orange coloring on the obverse side, and the new fancy blue back on the reverse side. The state capitol in Richmond is portrayed, the meeting place of both the legislature of Virginia and the Confederate Congress, and Christopher Memminger is pictured off to the lower right. Memminger resigned as secretary of the treasury in the early summer of 1864. He had sided with Davis on the cotton embargo, the war had taken a toll, and he had failed to produce a strong currency in the face of what became impossible obstacles. This piece is sometimes desired because a specimen was found in the possession of Abraham Lincoln at the time of his assassination at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D. C. It had evidently been given to him during his visit to the fallen city of Richmond about a week before his death. 

        The treasury note emitted in the amount of $10.00 in 1864 is probably the most frequently seen variety of Confederate currency. No longer does the obverse side of this note display the old state capitol in Columbia where the legislature of South Carolina called the convention which declared secession in 1860. Instead, a battle scene is portrayed, with horse-drawn caisson and artillery moving up to the front. This piece is striking in that it frankly depicts war which by then was the main reality of Southern life. Gone once and for all were suggestions of tranquility and abundance. R. M. T. Hunter continues to appear on the lower right as the president pro tempore of the Confederate Senate. A poignant irony of this new bill, substituting an illustration of war as the new reality, is that it was authorized by legislation enacted one year to the day before William Tecumseh Sherman destroyed the city of Columbia, leaving in smoldering ruins the state capitol first occupied in 1855 and pictured on the note (T-59) which this piece (T-68) replaced. In order to conceal his odious act, General Sherman falsely blamed the conflagration on retreating Southern troops. 

        The treasury note emitted in the amount of $20.00 in 1864 (T-67) corresponds fairly closely but not exactly to its counterpart issued in 1863 (T-58). The state capitol in Nashville was then in enemy hands. The face of Alexander Stephens is more accurately depicted on the lower right, for he was lean and his cheeks were naturally sunken. An Arabic rather than Roman numeral describes the amount of the note on the upper right on the obverse side.

        The treasury note emitted in the amount of $50.00 in 1864 repeating earlier variations issued in 1861, 1862, and 1863, prominently portrays Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States. He appears at his best, very confident, almost majestic.

        Davis had a military education at West Point, then some years in the antebellum army of the Union before settling down to law and politics. He had served as antebellum secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, and was United States Senator from Mississippi when Southern States seceded from the Union. At the time of his election as President of the Confederate States, it seemed that he was highly qualified. The Alabama secessionist William Yancy exclaimed when Davis was elected, “The man and the hour have met.” In truth Davis was superbly qualified to command a regiment or even a brigade, but he knew nothing of high command. He could administer a small executive department in time of profound peace, but he was incapable of serving as President in time of a great war.

        His personal conceit about military questions tempted him to meddle in operations which he was incompetent to direct. The results were fatal to the Southern cause. It is probable that, if somebody with greater ability and better judgment had been President, Southern independence might have been won despite the overwhelming numbers and resources which the powers of high finance enabled the Union to throw against the Dixie States. It is an unhappy truth that the Southern people as a whole ceased supporting the war toward the end and gave up, not because they were intimidated by Yankee atrocities, nor because they were unwilling to support their cause in time of adversity, but because they lost confidence in their government in Richmond, and so consented to an early but adverse end of the conflict. Northerners detested Davis because he led what they called a rebellion; even so, at war’s end he was anything but a beloved leader among Southerners, who mostly thought he had let them down. 

        Nothing here said justifies the terrible and tragic errors of Abraham Lincoln when he was thrust by events into a situation larger than he could understand and control, whereby the intended meaning of the United States Constitution was wrecked, and human life was sacrificed in horrible encounters under the command of incompetent or drunken generals, as the country was mortgaged to private moneylenders. Lincoln was a mysterious man of destiny and sorrows on the stage of history, which makes him hard to judge. He should, in any event, be distinguished from the false myth which has been built up around his name. By the same token it is important not to overrate Davis as some nostalgic Southerners are prone to do in our time, for his mistakes emphasize the need for prudence, sobriety, and virtue when resisting the Leviathan of lawlessness and evil in government. It is necessary to be right, and the South was right, but it is no less essential to be strong and wise. 

        The treasury note emitted in the amount of $100.00 in 1864, repeating earlier variations issued in 1862 and 1863, features the profile of Lucy Pickens, wife of Francis Pickens, the secessionist governor of South Carolina in 1860. Dressed in finery and glowing with charm, she was regarded as the quintessence of Southern womanhood. Every Southern gentleman was said to be her admirer. The Czar and Czarina of Russia became the godparents of her daughter born when she accompanied her husband serving as American ambassador to the imperial court in St. Petersburg before the war. Off to the lower left are sentries guarding a natural fortification of a kind frequently offered by Southern geography. Off to the lower right is a portrait of George Randolph, grandson of Thomas Jefferson born at Monticello, beau idéal of Southern tradition, brigadier general in the Confederate army, and secretary of war for the Confederate States for five months in 1862. The question is why such a grand character was secretary of war for only a few months. And that question leads to a story which is symbolized by the Randolph’s portrait on this beautiful piece of currency, and merits retelling here: 

        The greatest of all Southern commanders was General Joseph E. Johnston. Outstanding though Robert E. Lee was, General Johnston was a more intellectual, prudent, and insightful student of war. There were important Southern leaders at the time who appreciated this truth. The Richmond newspaper editor Edward Pollard observed, “There was no Confederate commander so remarkable for long foresight and for the most exact fulfillment of prophetic words as General Johnston. He was more profound than Lee, and his mind could range over larger fields.” Lee himself knew it, nor was there anything but mutual admiration between these two great men. A portrait of Lee and Johnston together in Savannah after the war testifies to their honest, manly friendship. 

        General Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines, but once healed he reported for duty to George Randolph, then serving as secretary of war. Johnston saw that Vicksburg was the key to maintaining Southern control over the Mississippi, yet was threatened by Union forces. He recommended that Southern troops stationed in Arkansas be pulled over to defend Vicksburg, giving Confederate arms plenty of strength to defend the city and the river above New Orleans. 

        The price of such a maneuver would have been exposure of Arkansas to invasion from the North, but Frederick the Great had correctly taught that, in a defensive war, it is better to leave relatively less important points exposed in order to defend essential positions, for once such positions are defended successfully, the enemy will be forced to withdraw from the country. Randolph had no difficulty in recognizing the merit of Johnston’s recommendation, and ordered transfer of Confederate troops in Arkansas for the defense of Vicksburg. But Davis immediately intervened and countermanded the secretary’s order. Thereupon, Randolph resigned in exasperation, for he knew what would happen. As night follows day, it soon became evident that the Southern garrison was insufficient to defend Vicksburg. The city was caught in the death grip of an energetic siege, threatening not only the city, but the river as an essential artery of the Confederate States. This siege was the key stepping stone in the rise of General Ulysses Grant to command of Union armies in brutal campaigns of 1864-1865. The pressure on Vicksburg in turn obliged General Lee to gamble by an invasion of Pennsylvania, and in battle at Gettysburg which, as things turned out, was a disaster for the Southern cause. And on the day after the failure of Pickett’s charge, Vicksburg surrendered. The portrait of Randolph on a Confederate treasury note, emitted a year and a half after he had resigned as secretary of war, was by design or fluke a silent but ironic rebuke of Davis. 

        General Braxton Bragg, a crony of Davis, had meanwhile sacrificed men recklessly at Second Murfreesboro in Tennessee and at Chickamauga in northern Georgia, suffering enormous casualties for little or no military advantage. The troops in the western army had no further trust in him, and essentially went on strike after refusing to fight for him at Missionary Ridge. The western army settled near Dalton, about a hundred miles north of Atlanta, insisting that Johnston be assigned to command. Davis had to remove Bragg, much as he disliked doing it, because the army would not obey him any further. In retiring him, Davis gave Bragg the title of “military advisor to the President.” As an empty honor to save face for a soldier disgraced, the gesture might have been acceptable. Unfortunately, Davis was serious.

        As he had been obliged by political circumstances to relieve Bragg, Davis had to appoint Johnston as the new commanding general of the western army. Johnston carefully rebuilt the size, morale, and supplies of his new command, and conducted a brilliant campaign, causing grave injury to Federal troops as they slowly made their way down to Atlanta, then settling down comfortably behind well planned and constructed fortifications around the city, thereby forcing the enemy to lay siege against which Johnston was in a position to hold over a long term. It is important to keep in mind that, as Johnston alternately fought and withdrew north of Atlanta in the spring and early summer of 1864, Lee did likewise north and southeast of Richmond. These defensive campaigns of Johnston and Lee were the brilliant masterwork of Southern warfare. And left alone, these two commanding generals might have won Southern independence, or at least they might have induced defeat of Lincoln’s bid for reelection in 1864 and forced favorable and satisfactory terms of peace. But the President in Richmond could not restrain himself from interfering with movements which he should have left alone. 

        About midsummer in 1864, Davis sent his “military advisor” to Atlanta. Like Davis, Bragg hated Johnston. Bragg reported to Davis and his cabinet that Johnston was about to abandon Atlanta. Bragg knew that Johnston intended to hold Atlanta for as long as possible, exacting the highest possible price from the invaders. Bragg’s report was a jealous lie, but Davis used it as a false pretext to retire Johnston. William Gilmore Simms, father of Southern literature, later wrote the blunt truth that “by a crime no less than a blunder, General Johnston was removed from command of our armies in Georgia.” By this stunning comment, Simms literally meant that the malicious intrigue behind the removal of General Johnston amounted to an impeachable high crime. This truth is a one of the unspeakably sad secrets which remain concealed in the mists of Southern historical consciousness. 

        The new general of the western army was John Bell Hood, who had been a good field officer, but knew nothing of high command. He had lost use of an arm at Gettysburg and a leg by amputation after Chickamauga. Morphine could then be purchased over the counter, and Hood was full of it to kill his pain. The drug clouded his mind. But Davis said he wanted a “fighting” general. The appointment of Hood was culpable not only because he was manifestly unfit to serve, but also in that he had secretly circulated false reports against Johnston in Richmond in order to promote his own career. Davis had consulted with General Lee, who urged against removing Johnston in front of Atlanta: if a change were necessary, Lee thought, the appointment should be offered to General William Hardee, a cool-headed, courageous soldier of excellent reputation, and the author of a standard text on rifle and infantry tactics. Davis disregarded Lee’s advice. Hood ordered insane attacks and maneuvers which resulted in the loss of Atlanta in a few weeks. Davis then directed Hood to undertake a foolhardy invasion of Tennessee. And Hood displayed terrible judgment in Tennessee, which resulted in devastating losses at Franklin and Nashville. After six months, the western army so carefully rebuilt by Johnston had been reduced to a band of footsore fugitives in northeastern Mississippi. Sick and enfeebled, Hood asked to be relieved of command. Meanwhile, Union forces burned Atlanta, and marched through undefended Georgia and South Carolina, committing war crimes along the way, while Richmond was placed under heavy siege. 

        A few weeks before the burning of Columbia by Union troops, an opportunity arose for peace negotiations on a military steamer off Hampton Roads, Virginia, between President Abraham Lincoln and his secretary of state, and a Southern delegation led by Alexander Stephens who was backed by General Lee and all other Southerners then understanding the military situation. Jefferson Davis did everything he could to torpedo these negotiations in advance by insisting on recognition of Southern independence which had already been lost though his own irreversible errors. Stephens ignored Davis’ insensate demands. He had known Lincoln from their days in Congress before the war, and he used his old acquaintance to negotiate at least the general principles and objectives of peace which were offered in principle by Lincoln, -- these very generous as a quid pro quo for surrender of Southern armies and Southern approval of the 13th Amendment. These terms included liberal use of pardons, appropriations to compensate masters for loss of slaves, and in this way to pump capital into the Southern States and encourage their recovery, and acceptance of Southern representatives and senators back into the Congress of the Union. By the time of Lee’s surrender it was no longer so, but at the time of Hampton Roads Lincoln was actually in a political position to deliver such concessions. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that Lincoln’s murder was engineered by the war department, because he wanted to grant defeated Southerners clemency, and to promote reconciliation. Whatever his faults, however resented he was, he died a martyr. 

        Stephens brought this precious opportunity back to the Confederate government in Richmond. Davis reacted by a grandiose speech at the African Church, claiming that the military situation offered all he could desire, and that by the summer solstice the enemy would sue for peace. Stephens saw the hopelessness of Davis’ fantasies and took the next available train to his home in Georgia where he remained, stoically awaiting defeat and his arrest. Davis became increasingly irresponsible in his fixations, which Stephens later disparaged by the Latin aphorism, “Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat,” -- Those whom God would destroy he first drives mad.

        During the final months of the war in 1865, General John Breckinridge, former Vice President of the United States who gave his sword to the South, served as the last Confederate secretary of war. Since military victory was no longer even remotely possible, his last noble contribution to the Southern cause was to work for an honorable defeat on tolerable terms of surrender. He worked incessantly trying to bring Davis to his senses, but to no avail. Richmond fell on the first Sunday in April. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in seven days. Johnston, who under special legislation had been restored by Lee to command in North Carolina, capitulated at Durham Station later in the month. All military resistance quickly subsided. But Davis traveled about with his entourage, full of impossible delusions and trying to encourage a continuation of the war, until he was confronted politely but firmly by Breckinridge and several brigadiers in Abbeville, South Carolina, whereupon he was obliged to relent, and the Confederate government was then and there dissolved. The lovely old mansion still stands, wherein the last meeting was held. The very parlor in which the Old South died on the first Tuesday in May after the fall of Richmond can be seen by visitors today.

        Davis spent some years in prison at Fort Monroe in Virginia, awaiting trial on an indictment for treason, dreaming that he could be defended by reasoned argument in favor of secession as a constitutional right of the several States of the Union. Of course, he had no chance of advancing such an argument with success, because the question of secession had been decided by the sword. The wager of battle having gone against the Southern States, no court could possibly revise what war had made irreversible in that age, as observed by Justice Robert Grier in his dissent in Texas v. White, 7 Wallace 700 at 737-741 (U.S. 1869). Only time can teach us again the value of secession as an ever-sound principle of government. Davis was amnestied after some years, and the prosecutor filed a nolle prosequi. 

        Stephens spent time in prison at Fort Warren in Boston harbor, but was released after a few months. His prison journal is a masterpiece as was his whole life. In due course he was pardoned, and restored to all his rights. Upon his release, he was elected by the legislature of Georgia to the United States Senate, but was not allowed to serve in the obtuse lawlessness of reconstruction. He then retired to his “chères études,” and wrote the finest defense of the constitutional right of a State to secede from the Union ever published in American history. His treatise speaks timelessly even today, is universal in application, and will be better understood in the future. Ever loyal to the ideals of the Union, he eventually returned to his old seat in the United States House of Representatives, and became the most respected man in Washington D. C. He died among his people while serving as the governor of his State, and was buried at his beloved “Liberty Hall” in Crawfordville. When news of his death was reported, the flag of the United States was lowered to half mast in Montpelier, the capital city of Vermont. 

        The last chapter in Davis’ life is a story of redemption, edifying to contemplate. He eventually returned to his native Mississippi, and lived out his last days on an estate on the Gulf coast known as “Beauvoir.” After the war, Lee was naturally considered the father of his Southern countrymen. But as time rolled by following Lee’s death, the Southern people forgot the past errors of Davis, and they looked to him as do children seeking their father. Davis then became the ceremonial magistrate of his defeated people. In advanced age, he offered comfort to widows, honor to the dead, consolation to old soldiers, and hope to the young. It is from this period of his life, not his tenure as President of the Confederate States, that Davis acquired his venerable and heroic aura in Southern legend. And for this work of healing during the closing years of his life, God must have rewarded him with soothing rest. His funeral in New Orleans was one of the largest in North America during the 19th Century. His remains were eventually laid to rest in Richmond. His home on the Gulf coast became a refuge for decrepit Confederate veterans and continued in that service until the last of them passed away. 

        Copyright, John Remington Graham, 2012. Permission to publish and to grant rights of publication, subject to the author's copyright, is granted to the Young Sanders Center for the Study of the War Between the States in Louisiana.